Can you imagine what it was like starting your period back in the days when nobody talked about periods? Perhaps you would wake in the night to blood-soaked sheets and the thought that you had died in the night and are now a ghost, floating above the murder scene. Or maybe you noticed a random gush of blood running down your leg during maths class and thought yourself mysteriously injured by algebra.
Of course, we all know that period blood neither soaks sheets or rushes down legs… at least, not at first… but how would a girl starting her period back in those days know such things? And would she be comfortable talking to her crinoline-wrapped mother about it? Even about big belts that go around the waist and hook up to giant cloth pads that need to be washed out the back because er, yuck it’s menstruation time and don’t let anyone see? Horrors!
These days, we are much more open and talky about such things. Starting your period is no biggie. Especially when you are armed with information and knowledge and advice and wisdom. Of which there is plenty about, even if you happen to have an old-school mother who is only comfortable leaving a discreet brown paper bag filled with pads with wings on your bed one random morning. At least you have wings.
It’s nice to be able to talk to our girls about the whole ‘that time of the month’ thing. Of course, many girls would rather solider on alone than have their mother provide instruction. For these girls, a book is a really useful resource. Left discretely on the bed, or not. Up to you. Here are five of our favourites.
5 useful books for starting your period
1. Welcome to Your Period by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang
The latest kid on the block is a fun read by the irrepressible Yumi and ex-Dolly Doctor Melissa Kang. This book tells all the goss with frankness and charm. It will be both reassuring and horrifying to most girls. Which is to say it doesn’t pull any punches, but does a fabulous job of soothing all bruises. All the ‘don’t want to ask’ questions are covered plus it makes awkward funny.
2. Girl Stuff: for girls aged 8-12 by Kaz Cooke
Funny, informative, a bit piss-takey. Just the thing for girls who want to know about these things, but don’t really want to know. If you know what I mean. This book is about periods, bodies, boys – all the tween stuff that is necessary to know.
— Kaz Cooke (@reallykazcooke) October 5, 2016
3. The Period Book by Karen Gravelle
A nice, straight-forward, chatty book that promises to have all the puberty discussions most of us find a bit tricky. This book has been around for a long time (I’m quite certain my own mother brown-paper-bagged me in a copy), but has been updated many times.
4. Hello Flo: The Guide, Period by Naama Bloom
This book has such a relaxed and easy-going attitude about everything, it’s sure to make any girl feel better about getting her period. It answers all the big questions and offers advice on lots of FAQ little things too.
5. Girls Only: All About Periods and Growing Up Stuff by Victoria Parker
A good pick for younger girls – it’s a quick, easy read that explains things simply and effectively.
6. Have You Started Yet? by Chloe Thomson and Ruth Thomson
I’m pretty sure we had an earlier version of this book… it used to have a pop art cover with an angsty girl with the title in the speech bubble. My sister will remember it well… Anyway, perhaps this version is an entirely new book altogether. It certainly reads much less mortifying than I remember our version being. This one is nicely straightforward and factual and not school-ma’amy at all.
Or perhaps, I’ve just finally grown up a a bit… 😊
Or skip the books and go straight to a course
Michelle Mitchell is one of Australia’s most trusted parenting educators. She’s also been teaching kids about puberty and sexual health in schools for over 25 years. She’s put all of that knowledge (and humour) into creating an online program that’s all about puberty. Your tween can do the program on their own, or with you or another trusted adult – whatever suits you best.
It’s a comprehensive, non-confrontational program that somehow takes the awkward out of this very awkward talk. So much more than just a girl’s first period, the course has a version for boys and a version for girls. Highly recommended.
Do you remember what starting your period was like?
Both images by Annie Spratt