Monday, September 17, 2012

In the Mix Monday: Back to School with U by Kotex Tween

This month, as a U by Kotex Tween Ambassador, we will be discussing Back to School and helping to prepare our tween daughters for their periods. For more info on U by Kotex Tween and the terrific resources and products they offer that help inform and prepare girls for adolescence and the changes they go through please click here.

Summer has officially shifted its attention from fun at camp, slumber parties with friends and endlessly sunny days spent swimming, biking and hiking to back-to-school. In our household this transition is met with bittersweetness. My kids, whether they realize it or not, rely on a set schedule and routine and thoroughly enjoy seeing friends and working on projects in class and getting back into extra-circular activities, but there is something so special about summer vacation and the other ways they learn about themselves and grow. Alas, it is time to hang up our bathing suits and bike helmets, at least on a daily basis, and turn to backpacks and books.

We begin to shift into school mode in late August by cleaning and organizing bedrooms, sorting through clothing and accessories and of course taking stock of what we need for the classroom supplies lists and any replacement equipment for sports and activities. All of this is done with a swift efficiency so we can get back to enjoying those last days of freedom, as my kids would say or in my case, leisure. I quietly notice how much they’ve grown physically and in terms of their interests: Little People have taken a back seat to Barbie and it suddenly matters what is on any given t-shirt.
Copyright: Deirdre/Ladies Holiday 2012

This year, my oldest, Ginny, is most certainly entering the territory where changes in physical appearance among herself and peers is obvious. The emotional changes that go with adolescence are less measurable, but mood swings, frustration and confusion count among the changes I’ve begun seeing. To prepare for all of this when we are not together: at school, activities and with friends, in other words, most of the day, I opted to slow down our speedy home organization process this year and point out how much she has grown. For instance, every single pair of her jeans will not button at the waist and the bottoms are well above her ankles. Like Tamar suggested in her Talkable Moments post for U by Kotex Tween I took this opportunity to point out how she is growing, developing and how it is likely some of her friends are catching up to her in height. I was careful to point out the other ways she has matured as well, such as being responsible for getting herself ready in the morning, tidying her room and practicing her clarinet, all without being asked.

As we folded clothes and put others in a bag to save for her younger sister, I talked about how she felt about going back to school with a new teacher, different kids in her class and how the changes I pointed out usher in others, such as the first period.
U by Kotex Tween offers a great tool for parents and caregivers prepare for some of the questions that inevitably come up with this great tool. 

She seemed unsettled by the unpredictability of it, that is, you never really can be sure exactly when you are going to get it and this can create some anxiety. But the best way to alleviate that is or diminish it as much as possible is to be prepared: with knowledge and supplies.
We described how for some people they may have a headache, cramps, slight back ache or may feel a little "off" a few days before their period. I also told her sometimes there is discharge that will begin to show before her period and if this was unpleasant she could wear a pad to help keep things comfortable.
I was careful to say this in such a way that it didn't scare her, but that it was the body's way of alerting us of our menstrual cycle. These types of things can bring on more uncertainty so I showed her the U by Kotex Tween Hello Period website that she has permission to look at whenever she wants, when she was thinking about periods or if she had a question. I invited her to talk to me as well, assuring her we were in this together and that every girl goes through this and she was not and would not be at all alone in the process.
Copyright: Deirdre/Ladies Holiday 2012

U by Kotex Tween sent us a super cool pouch with items that are perfect for a tween girl: chap stick, a collapsible brush, band aids & nail file. I presented this to Ginny along with some U by Kotex Tween pads, with fun and appealing designs that are fitted to a tween's smaller build. We also included a clean pair of underwear placed discreetly at the bottom because my daughter was most concerned about soiling hers if she got her period at school. I also included a back up granola bar (I ordinarily send her with a snack) but if it was forgotten or if she was extra hungry. In this way, she has a little bag filled with important items, kind of like a purse.
I opened one pad and demonstrated how to remove the backing from the sticky side and how to fit it into the underwear, there was some embarrassing cringing happening on her end, but there was a measure of curiosity too. There are directions on the backing, but in my experience seeing something done first goes a long way when you're in the real life situation and perhaps feeling a bit nervous when the time comes.

We decided this would stay in the bottom of her back pack and if anyone asked what it was the chap stick, brush and other goodies would distract from further questions. I also explained that if her friends were curious she could talk about its contents, but she didn’t seem receptive to this idea just yet.

Copyright: Deirdre/Ladies Holiday 2012

I decided to be a little silly and do a few role-plays along these lines:

Roles: Ginny as herself and me: alternating roles of friend, teacher and school nurse.
The Setting: Recess, Classroom and Nurse's Office
Scenes: In each instance she noticed she had her period and we talked through ways she could get herself to the bathroom, with her pouch containing pads and underwear and take care of things.
We decided that if she were to get her period at school, after taking care of things, she would go to the school nurse and call me and I would pick her up. This seemed to alleviate the anxiety to a large degree- knowing we had a plan in place made the anticipation less scary. I was also clear that she may not get her period at all, but when she does she will be prepared.


Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

At the beginning of the skit Ginny was stiff and uncomfortable, but once we got the ball rolling she played her part and her sister popped in to play an annoying classmate, in the event they made a comment, Ginny had a reply. We got laughing after a while and we all relaxed and I felt assured she had gained a bit of confidence for when the time comes and she gets her first period.
 Here's to a successful & easeful beginning of the school year,
“I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”
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  1. Great post that really gets me thinking about how I will discuss this with my own daughter. Thanks for sharing the links, too.

    1. Thanks- the links are super helpful- things I'm not sure how to answer, things I hadn't thought of...hope it all helps:)

  2. my little and i just talked about this last week. we are putting together a lil package as well. she is a bit worried about putting it in her backpack because all her friends get in there often to grab things. i tried to explain that they probably have their own little package somewhere too and that there is nothing embarrassing or taboo about your period. its hard for them to get just yet i think. good post!

    1. I know what you mean about the little package, but hopefully they'll get that all their friends really will go through the same thing. It is hard not to believe you're the only one at that age. Good for you for furthering the belief that there is nothing wrong/taboo about the period! Cheers!


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