My daughter has started her period can she still come to the Celebration Day for Girls?
Yes! Of course! She is very welcome. Every girl is individual and comes to menarche (her first period) according to her own body’s timing. In the past we have had some girls who have started their periods and many who haven’t. While she has experienced her menarche, your daughter may now have some new questions about puberty and menstruation and will benefit from the multi-faceted approach of the Celebration Day. She may also like to share something of her experience with the other girls. Having said that it’s important to note that we have utmost respect for each girl’s privacy and at no time do we ask they share any of their personal experiences. Nonetheless your daughter’s presence at the Celebration Day, as well as being of great value to her, may well be a resource to the other girls in the group who haven’t yet begun their periods.
Because of the reluctance in schools and in our culture generally to talk openly and soulfully about menarche and menstruation, at the Celebration Day for Girls we aim to provide a rich, creative and fun, as well as an informed day that supports a healthy, curious and open approach to this important and, for many decades of a woman’s life, pervasive feminine experience.
I have explained all about periods to my daughter, will she get anything out of the Celebration Day for Girls?
As her mother you will remain her main source of information and guidance and this relationship is invaluable. A Celebration Day for Girls will build on the understanding each girl may already have and includes activities designed to strengthen an open connection between mother and daughter. The benefit of celebrating in a group is the experience that each girl and her mother bring to the day and as well as the unfolding group experience. The freedom of discussing periods with their peers helps to normalise them for girls, and hearing a variety of women’s stories adds to the richness of their understanding. The celebratory aspect of the Day helps confirm for each girl that her experience of menarche is both entirely normal and one that is shared with all women, but equally, uniquely special. Many girls who have experienced a Celebration Day for Girls go on to share their experience of menarche with their friends and have gained insight into ways they can best support their peers. All in all A Celebration Day paves the way for a rich, positive and connected ongoing experience.
My daughter knows very little about periods and reproduction. Will that be a problem for her on the day?
Not at all, this is a perfect opportunity for her to come along and find out more. A Celebration Day for Girls is designed to meet the needs of all girls regardless of their prior knowledge and understanding of the reproductive workings of their body. Information is delivered in a clear but gentle manner, and a sense of respect and wonder is engendered in how our bodies work and mature. A range of materials and activities are used to engage girls and create a comfortable, interactive, and fun day. An aim of the Day is to normalise menarche and menstruation for girls, and celebrate it in a way that encourages an ongoing positive relationship with their reproductive health.
As a facilitators I am well trained and provide relevant, factual information and girls can ask questions in a relaxed, supportive environment. There is also an opportunity for girls to write down anonymous ‘curly’ or ‘embarrassing’ questions.
I have had a very difficult time with my own periods so it's really hard to think of anything positive to say to my daughter. However, I do want her to have a better time of it than me. Will the Celebration Day help?
Most definitely. An important, and perhaps unspoken, part of the Celebration Day for Girls is that mothers have the opportunity to re-dream a little of their own menarche and menstrual story as they gather with their daughters to celebrate. Many of us, partly because of cultural silences and even hostility to women’s bodies, along with inherited physical traits, have experienced a painful time with our periods, both emotionally and physically.
In the mother’s session, before the Celebration Day, you will have an opportunity to express some of your own feelings about your experience of menstruation. Women have often found this sharing to be revelatory and insightful, both their own and that of other women, and offers a path to a fresh new relationship with their menstrual cycle and female body.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, in her book Mother-Daughter Wisdom, says, “The mother-daughter relationship is the foundation of every woman’s health. It has more clout biologically, emotionally and psychologically than any other relationship in a woman’s life.” If you have had a difficult time with your periods you may not want to scare your daughter with graphic descriptions and the key to your support for her at this time is genuine communication and connection. You can share with her some of your experience in an age appropriate way as well as talk with her about how you want it to be for her. Allow ample time to hear her questions, ideas and concerns. The Celebration Day for Girls will gently and smoothly support this communication between you.
The Celebration Day for Girls creates a space where girls can feel good about their journey toward inhabiting a woman’s body. As your daughter sits with friends and a skilled facilitator she will imbibe a sense that she can experience menstruation each month in a positive and conscious way, and that, if she has discomfort or other menstrual problems, she can get the support she needs.
As a Celebration Day for Girls facilitator I have undergone my own personal journey with menstruation and have dedicated myself to the rich practice of menstrual cycle awareness. Through this process they have become a passionate educator in the field of positive menstrual education.
What should I say to my daughter about the workshop?
There is no need to prepare her or say very much. You could lean on the title of the day and say, ‘it’s a special day for celebrating being a girl’. You could say, ‘it’s about puberty and growing up’. Or you could say, ‘it’s a fun and beautiful day, filled with lots of activities and you’ll find it really interesting’. For some girls knowing this much is exciting and they can’t wait, and others may feel embarrassed at the thought of anyone talking about periods. We are familiar with and respect all the feelings that may arise for girls and find that, without exception, within a short time they are relaxed and enjoying the day’s activities and conversations.
If your daughter has any anxiety about the day you can reassure her that at no time will she be asked to share anything about her personal experiences and changes.
"Leading up to the girls' celebration my girl was very resistant to attend, which was in line with how she felt about growing up - resistant! After the commitment was made I could sense her worries and fears about what would transpire on the day - she voiced a few concerns about what she would have to do and say. She left me hesitantly on the day to step into the group and by the afternoon session she had come to a new place. There was an openness and joy around simply being with friends in a safe space. Sharing stories, creating beauty, laughing and learning in a very gentle but empowering way about what she will be stepping into.
I really enjoyed the afternoon session together and the stories the women told to the girls - the honesty of it - which allowed them to see us in a new light. Following the Celebration Day she felt very special and talked about how much fun she had. She held stories between the girls and the secrets they shared close like a precious gift. It has created a new bond between the two of us in terms of how we see each other and how we relate. Thank you so much!" Ally Briar Hill mum of two daughters.
What do you do during the Celebration Day?
During the Celebration Day we incorporate many different activities and conversations in order to honour a variety of learning styles, all of which weave into the themes for the day. These include: art and craft, mothers telling stories about their growing up experiences, fun activities and stories from a variety of cultures, conversational cards processes, sharing and building on our knowledge and understanding of puberty and the menstrual cycle in creative and affirmative ways, exploring practicalities of managing menstruation at school, at home and when we’re away from home, simple celebratory rituals and much, much more!
We don’t want to give too many more details about the day to help preserve an element of surprise for girls, however if you would like to know more specifics please feel free to contact me.
What do you talk about during the Celebration Day?
As the experiences of puberty and menstruation are not only physical, but also emotional, social, cultural, and for many, spiritual, we have a wide variety of conversations during the Celebration Day which weave in and out of the Day’s activities. These include:
Should I let my daughter decide if she wants to come to the workshop or just say we're going?
For some girls it is difficult to imagine what could be fun about celebrating puberty and menstruation and for others the idea is exciting and intriguing. In our experience all girls of this age group have a fun day, with this firm foundation spreading benefits well into their future. We have found that even the most reluctant girls relax and settle within a short time and all leave with a new confidence and comfort with themselves and their changing bodies, and a great mutually-supportive ‘womanly’ bond with their mother or female carer.
Many mothers present the Celebration Day for Girls as a non-negotiable event and others prefer to ask their daughter if she wants to attend. In other situations the Celebration Day is a class curriculum event. Whatever your situation you are welcome to talk this through with your facilitator.
“My daughter was full of enthusiasm and confidence the evening after the workshop and was desperate to remember and tell every little detail that she had experienced … a great change from the apprehensive daughter I dropped off in the morning.” Ingrid
How long is the Celebration Day?
The Celebration Day for Girls is generally 10 am to 4pm, with morning tea and lunch breaks. These times may vary if an earlier or later start suits a particular group better. The first sessions of the Day – 10-11.30 and 12-1.15 – are for girls only and mothers join in at 1.15 for the remainder of the Day.
The two-hour mother’s session prior to the Celebration Day is scheduled somewhere between 2 weeks and one day before the Day, depending on when is most convenient for the group.
We plan to do our own celebration when my daughter gets her first period, can you explain why we would do Celebration Day as well as this?...
Celebration Day for Girls is not designed to completely fulfil any celebration or education for positive menstrual education. You are her mother and main carer and when she reaches menarche, together you can celebrate in a way that suits you both. Celebration Day is also about her being exposed to and comfortable with other women sharing stories, and girls from within the community. After participating in Celebration Day she may well become quite clear about how she would like to celebrate her menarche.
"My daughter recently had her very first period (she is 13 years old). She was well prepared and chuffed to be making her step into womanhood. I was equally pleased, knowing that I'd prepared her well. I gave her a journal in a leather cover and her father gave her the most sparkly, elegant earrings. I asked her if there was something special she would like to do with either family or friends to celebrate. She knew exactly what she wanted and clearly articulated it.
And so, we went camping for a night out with some mothers and daughters that she felt comfortable sharing this time with. We told stories, shared gifts, sang and began to knit squares for a blanket that will embody this important transition for her into womanhood. It was such a memorable time together. Simple and uniquely her, filling her up with the self esteem that she is unique, beautiful and growing up into an extraordinary young woman.
I feel very grateful for the Celebration Day for Girls workshop. This was an special day for both of us back in 2011, it set the tone for her to be welcomed into the experience of becoming a woman so beautifully.
I'm one proud mum who is bearing witness to my daughter as she feels embraced and healthily acknowledged into this important life transition.
It is such a privilege to see this being a nourishing experience for her, which of course is just as it should be." Briar Hill Mum.
This topic is covered within my daughter's school curriculum why would I bring her to Celebration Day as well?
While some form of ‘health and human development’ curriculum is available in most schools and is likely to cover the rudiments of reproduction and the menstrual cycle this is a far cry from the intent and content of A Celebration Day for Girls.
A Celebration Day for Girls can add many unique and special elements even if your daughter has already had numerous school sessions on puberty. These include: the opportunity for relaxed and spacious conversation and questions, a space for mother's and daughter's to connect in a loving way, a whole girls-only day, a sense of the wonder, beauty and interconnectedness of nature in contrast to a mechanical ‘plumbing’ approach, conversation and connection between girls and girls and their mothers and, not least, fun and celebration!
Absolutely right. The exact timing of your daughter’s menarche is unknown, unless it has already happened of course. During A Celebration Day for Girls we are celebrating being a girl, being female, and the wonders of our bodies. For many girls the Day acts as an awakening to a new awareness of the importance of, and pride in, these changes and her emerging womanly body.
The Celebration is also a beautiful bonding for mothers and daughters around their own shared and age specific experiences. At the end of the Day participants may express what the celebration has been for them in slightly different ways, however everyone is clearly nourished, warmed and energised by the experience.