No. 1 | It may take her years to get “regular,” and that’s just fine.
Some know and some don’t – a woman’s menstrual cycle is a “period” of time. A full cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding in one month to the first day of bleeding in the next. An average cycle is about 28 days, but they can be as short as 21 days and as long as 45. All perfectly normal.
According to the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, it could take as many as 6 years after a girl’s first period for her cycle to become predictable. She could skip a month or have two periods per month. No telling.
Go ahead and sit with that.
Until her cycle becomes more predictable, you think planning out her day, concentrating in class, “hearing” you, is easy? Pssht. How? No. Because to varying degrees, she’s in a state of uncertainty.
Here’s a tip: definitely track her periods on a calendar to get a sense of when her cycle is settling into a rhythm. But, until it becomes relatively predictable, ALSO track your daughter’s moods on that calendar. I know it sounds and may even feel a bit odd at first, but trust me… it works. If she finds that she feels more frustrated, irritable, uncomfortable than normal on the days leading up to her period, seeing that on the calendar can help her understand when and how her changing hormone levels affect her mood. And a mood calendar can make you more aware of her cycle, more attuned to when she might need extra patience, and give you both a reason to talk about everything going on in her body, her mind, and her life.
Cycle or not… that’s what will strengthen your relationship and empower our girls.
In case you’re asking your screen: no, we don’t recommend period trackers at first. But they can be helpful to those lucky young lady’s who quickly settle into that average 28 day cycle.
No. 2 | Keep a lightweight pad tucked in her backpack.
Yeah, you THINK that’s a no brainer. But it’s so simple to do that nearly every parent forgets it. And remember, your daughter will have no idea just why it’s important to have at first. So, if she’s losing water bottles, forgetting her backpack, or saying “yes” to questions you haven’t even finished asking… she’s a normal kid who is NOT likely to remember this on her own.
After that first period, it’ll be difficult to predict the second one. A handy pad, tucked in her backpack, locker, the car… hell… a FEW places she will likely be everyday – that’ll make sure she’s ready for the second, third, fourth… you get the rhythm. And preparation will help prevent embarrassing accidents.
Check out the RedDrop Everyday Pad. It’s thin, so it isn’t noticeable even under leggings, but powerful enough to absorb at least a tampon worth of flow. If she doesn’t have one, you should also consider getting her a BRB (be right back) bag. She can keep everything she needs for her period – pads, hygienic wipes, extra underwear – in a cute little bag… discreetly tucked in her backpack… ready.
No. 3 | Get out of your feelings and teach her what you know.
Here’s the thing. For most women, the first period experience was terrible. In some cases, it was even traumatic. I don’t want that for my daughter or yours. We can’t protect our girls from everything, but we can definitely prevent some things. And on this one thing, which has such an impact on her self esteem, understanding of her body, potentially her performance, and even her relationships… we got her.
As uncomfortable as it may be at first, by sharing what you know, you’ll empower her to grow. So, let’s start with an easy one: you know kids smell. I mean, damn, do they smell. And every kid’s body smells differently as their hormones change and their bodies mature.
Every parent WISHES their kid would wash up without a constant reminder. And furthermore, that they would just do it right the first time. They SHOULD know how to wash their faces, their armpits, and yes… their privates, by this time. But one thing’s for sure, for sure. If you don’t tell them, work with them, tell ‘em again, and probably even show them… they will do the bare minimum. And every woman knows, the bare minimum ain’t nearly good enough, especially when you’re on your period.
So, be patient with your daughter, but be real and be thorough about exactly how to wash up. Either demonstrate or provide a detailed checklist. And prepare yourself -- this will likely take more than a single conversation. To help, RedDrop posted a video that explains on an anatomical model both what a girl’s external reproductive parts are called and how to clean them. Take a look to refresh your memory and get your mind right. Still feeling anxious? Check out the RedDrop Facebook page for access to other Moms and Dads starting the same conversation.
Then take a breath, get out of your feelings, and teach her what you know.