On the day we were scheduled to find out the sex of our twins, I was ecstatic and so was my wife. As the wand glided from side to side across my big belly, my excitement grew. My wife held her breath, and the doctor said “Baby A is… a girl.”
He added more gel as he began his search for Baby B.
“Ah, there… Baby B is also a girl.”
With that my smiling wife said, “AH… two girls!” And a smile lit up my face. Two girls: I was ecstatic.
We reached the elevator, our blurry black-and-white sonogram photos in hand; the bell dinged and the doors opened.
“Two girls means two periods at the same time,” my wife said. We were months away from the birth of our twins, and the fear was already setting in. I hadn’t even thought about it, but she was right. Two girls, menstruating at the same time? Holy moly!
My wife vividly remembers her period talk and it was more of a nightmare conversation than a welcome one. As for me, I don’t even remember the talk I got when my body was changing and I transitioned into puberty.
For girls, puberty can begin at the age of 8 when the hypothalamus begins to release hormones. Then hair begins to grow in places… well, you remember. I won’t name them all here. It’s an uncomfortable situation.
Our twin daughters will turn six this year, pushing them closer to hitting puberty. I must admit, I am not feeling quite ready. But I’m feeling a little less nervous about it ever since I heard of the period box.
What is a period box?
A period box is a wonderful resource shared by writer and blogger Sarah Smith. On her blog, Sarah suggests creating a box for your daughter when she turns 9. (Of course, the puberty conversations can begin years earlier.) As your daughter’s body changes, creating a customized box of your own for your daughter can also be used as a tool to help mom lean into the transition.
Each period box can be used to provide a sort of roadmap for the period discussion. Sarah says on her blog, “Making up a ‘first-period box’ for girls before they start their periods (known as menarche), helps them to feel prepared and by demystifying products that they may use, the whole experience becomes far less anxious for them. Making up the first-period box also allows you to discuss the different selection of sanitary protection (san-pro) available, so that she can make an informed choice about her preferences.”
You can use any box, but there are some nice eco-friendly options at The Period Store. Their site will also give you some ideas of the products you’ll want to include in the box.
For our son’s puberty talk a few years ago, we were somewhat taken by surprise. One afternoon, our son came home from sixth grade and said, “My teacher said we all need to buy deodorant over the weekend,” and before we knew it, we were in the deodorant aisle looking at Old Spice because that’s what his grandfather wears. But this wakeup call made us realize very quickly that it was time for that talk.
With our son, we relied heavily on books. The main book we used was “It’s So Amazing: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families,” and that book was quite good. We will absolutely consider using that one again with our daughters. But, while books can open the door and make those important conversations easier, it does not replace the conversations. We let our son guide the discussion, asking whatever was on his mind. It quickly became clear that if we brought up the topics ourselves — topics like hormones or girls’ bodies — we ran the risk of embarrassing him. So we let him come to us.
While it’s been a rewarding journey with my son, I am looking forward to a totally different journey with my two girls, and that will start with creating a period box.
The period box I plan on creating for my girls will have many of the suggestions from Sarah’s blog. I’ll include sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, tampons, Midols, a lavender heating pad, raspberry leaf tea, and chocolate. In the future period box, I’ll create, I’ll draw on the things that make me comfortable when I have my period. In my kids’ box, I’ll also include a note, an invitation of sorts to give them an open invitation to come to speak to me at any time or their other mom since they have two people to go to (thank God).
You can think of your tween’s period box as like filling an Easter basket or wrapping up a present for them. Period boxes should not only include the essentials but also include words of wisdom, a sense of comfort, mixed with a bit of education for your daughter. It’s better she learn from you than from her friends — or worse, hears nothing at all and must navigate it all on her own.