It’s always one of the things parents dread when having kids. Talking about the birds and the bees, talking about puberty and planning to talk to your kids about periods. Thing is we have to do it! If you have a girl, they are going to get periods and if you have boys, they need to know how girls work, just like they need to know how they do.
I seem to have been speaking to quite a few mum friends recently and we’ve talked about when is the right time to tell your kids about periods and what happens. Do you let school do it? Or do you do it yourself?
If I go back to when I was a child, I was about 8 years old. My mum sat me down on the sofa and handed me a little bag, with a sanitary towel and a spare pair of pants in. She explained carefully what was going to happen when I got my period. The memories are blurry but I remember feeling scared!! I was going to bleed? Why? I’m not sure she went into the details about why you have periods but she since told me she had heard of girls starting as young as 10 and wanted me to be prepared. I knew about sex at 8 from a friend from school but didn’t link the two for a while longer. Possibly when I was in year 5 or 6 when I read Forever Judy Blume (anyone else read that one…I learnt a lot then!!) and some books about growing up. I’d have been 10 or 11.
As it happens I had a long wait until I started my periods. I was 15!! Almost about to go to the doctors if I didn’t. I think I was the last in my year to start and I did always worry I would have fertility issues, as was so late to start! Thankfully I didn’t and probably the opposite.
Talk to Your Kids About Periods
I’m not an expert on this at all and I’m not sure there really is a good or bad time to talk to your kids. Of course they will learn at school but I would much prefer it was me doing it and could answer any questions. It just needs to be before girls start their periods in my mind, as it would be awful to happen and them not have a clue what is happening to them. Very frightening I can imagine.
It so happened that my eldest daughter learnt about periods around when she started school, at reception age. I would guess she was around 4 or 5 years old. It was definitely before I got pregnant with her baby brother. As a Mum (like most of you and Dads too) I get very little privacy. Before the little man was born I would bath with my girls and there were weeks I couldn’t. This often roused questions about why I couldn’t. I was barged in on changing tampons. There would be the odd flash of blood in the toilet after I had finished and of course this led to my very curious 5 year old asking a LOT of questions.
It made sense to just tell her the truth. So I did.
I simply explained that every month ladies bleed from their “baby hole” (this maybe another line of discussion!) but of course since then I’ve had a baby!! I explained I can grumpy, a bit sore and I needed something to soak up the blood. She looked at tampons and she looked at pads. Since then she has looked at period pants too.
In the early days this was sufficient. At 5 years old they don’t need loads of explanations; a simple answer was fine. She didn’t really question it much but it was useful when I was caught short in the toilet and could ask her to fetch me a tampon!
As she got older and is almost 7 now, more questions were asked and she could take on more information. Plus I’d had another baby and she knew about how he was born and a little about how he was made. I explained the blood was waiting for a baby to be made each month in the womb. If no baby is made, the blood was lost and then the cycle repeated every month. I could tell her if I felt like rubbish due to hormones. I could apologise if I needed to be left alone.
Periods naturally led into discussions about puberty. About breasts growing, hair appearing, grumpiness and general other puberty joys! She was pretty nonchalant about it. I was too. Occasionally I will get asked a question; has your period finished now? Those sorts of things. It hasn’t been a big deal.
Thankfully we are not at the full sex discussions yet!
I think it is so important to talk to your kids about periods before they happen. I was still quite nervous and I was prepared. It is a surprise and it is a big change; something new to deal with each month. I know she may want to use more of the eco-friendly, innovative products available for periods now. I’m dipping my toe in with period pants and will want to discuss with her all the options.
I’m glad my eldest knows. My middle daughter at almost 4 has small inclinations too, as has been around me when I’ve been sorting myself out. In time I hope she will be ready to know more too.
What about you? When did you learn about periods? Or when did your kids learn?