The average age a girl starts her first period is gradually getting younger, which is why it’s more important than ever for us to prepare them as soon as possible. And this preparation comes in the form of education about what is happening to her body, as well as the finer details of how to cope with the logistics of having a period each month. Statistics show that girls are now starting puberty a year earlier than they did in the 1970s. What this means is that more and more girls are getting their first period when they are still at junior school, where they may not have as much knowledge around the subject, and there may not be many, if any, suitable facilities for them (e.g. sanitary bins in toilets).
One of the things that young girls are most concerned about when it comes to starting their period, is the not knowing when it’s going to happen and not being prepared for it if it happens at school. We can all relate to that one, right? The worry that everyone else is going to know you’ve started before you’ve even noticed, because you’re walking around with blood stains up the back of your skirt. It’s the stuff of nightmares. And let’s face it, even though it’s a natural process that all girls go through and there’s nothing to be ashamed of, it really is the last thing you want for your kid to be tarred with that brush. Kids are cruel, and that stuff sticks. Once a kid’s labelled as the ‘period kid’, that’s it, they’re period kid for the rest of their school days, and no one wants that for their child.
Whilst you can’t wrap them up in cotton wool forever, you can at least prepare them for the inevitable by equipping them with a fully kitted out period pack ahead of their first period. This simple act alone will hopefully alleviate some of the anxiety they have and make their first period memorable for the right reasons.
Here are my top 5 essentials to include in your daughter’s first period pack:
1. Spare Knickers
Chances are things are going to be a bit messy. Having a spare pair of knickers in her period pack means she can change into a fresh pair and not worry about any potential leak or smell problems. Ideally, go for a black pair as this will help disguise any blood if she has to change for PE, and will also be a lot easier for you to get the stains out of than a white pair!
2. Tissues/Wipes/Hand Sanitizer
Remember this is all new to her and the logistics of everything can be messy. She’s never had to deal with blood coming out of her vajayjay before let alone trying to keep things clean while hovering over a loo, blood stained knickers round her ankles, while trying to navigate putting a sanitary towel in a fresh pair of knicker. Yeah, it’s gonna get messy for sure. Wipes or tissues are great for cleaning up any spillages that may have got on the toilet seat, floor, or their inner thighs (you can’t always rely on there being toilet roll in the cubicles). Hand sanitizer is good for a final clear up before she leaves the cubicle and goes to wash her hands at the sink.
3. Sanitary Towels
Your daughter may choose to explore other sanitary products in the future; things like period pants, tampons, and menstrual cups all come with their own advantages, but for now she needs something that’s easy to use, and you don’t get much easier than sanitary towels. Have a look around for smaller sized towels (some brands even have products aimed specifically at teens and younger girls) as many of the normal ones will be too large for her, which will feel uncomfortable and may look bulky. Pop a couple in her pack, because you won’t know how heavy she’ll be plus she may want to change at every opportunity to avoid the risk of leaks.
4. Small Sealable Bag
Remember the spare knickers you packed earlier? Well, let’s not forget about the soiled ones too, they’re going to need to go somewhere, and ideally you don’t want them shoved in the bottom of the bag getting blood stains on everything else in there too! A small, leakproof bag that can be sealed in some way is perfect for keeping dirty knickers away from her other belongings. Something like a ziplock bag, or a scented nappy bag that she can tie up, is unobtrusive and easily stashes away in her period kit, but can be an absolute life saver when she’s trying to deal with everything else that’s going on. And you’ll definitely be grateful of it too.
5. Some Words Of Reassurance
You can empower her and educate her and prepare her all you like, but there’s no doubt she’s going to feel a little bit anxious and unsettled when her first period does finally come. Putting a note in her pack telling her not to panic, perhaps with some instructions, or some reassuring words from you will help her know she’s not alone and that she can totally do this.
Some Final Tips
OK so you’ve got all the gear, but where’s she going to put it all? She needs something big enough to hold it all, but not so big it shouts, “hey there, guess who’s got her period”. I personally find a pencil case is the ideal solution to both these things. It’s the very epitome of discretion, it keeps everything contained, it’s a suitable size, can handle being thrown around her bag, and if you choose one that’s made from plastic or vinyl it can be wiped clean too. Alternatively, a small make up bag will work just as well, but this may look more out of place in a junior kid’s bag than it does at secondary age. It’s worth getting her to choose one herself, so that it’s something she likes. She can also help you pack it up with all the contents so that a) she knows what’s in there and b) she feels as though she’s part of the process. It is a pivotal bonding moment after all.
Hopefully this has helped prepare you and your child for her first period. It needn’t be scary and it needn’t be something she worries about. You just need to keep those lines of communication open, so that she feels as though she come to you to talk about anything that might be worrying her. Having this kit in her bag will mean she has everything she needs to handle the situation when it arises and will also mean she can help out any of her friends who haven’t had the same help she has.