My Menstrual Cup Changed My Life

I got my first period when I was 12 and was perpetually embarrassed by periods for the next ten years. Ten whole years of negative feeling towards my body just doing its thing, like they do. The idea of a menstrual cup came up when I was around the same age, maybe 13 or so. 

The brand that was mentioned was a Mooncup – and I kid you not, until I was 22 years old I thought they were exclusively for menstruating astronauts because you can’t change used tampons or pads in space. I also thought they were a medical device that was left in there for the duration of the period because… well… Space.
Needless to say, I was VERY wrong. Now I wish I had spent more than 3 seconds thinking this over as a teenager and actually done some research. 
After deciding to use cloth nappies, a fairly natural progression from there is the use of cloth sanitary pads and other reusable menstrual products. I had seen other cloth nappy users mention “CSP” and “RUMPs” and one night, pinned under my barely-sleeping infant, I delved into the internet. 
I discovered Precious Stars Pads on YouTube and saw this young woman – much younger than me    with such a level head on her shoulders. There she was, 15, 16, 17 years old merrily talking about her periods on the internet for everyone to see. After a bit of a binge watch I mostly felt silly for ever being embarrassed about my periods. I felt inspired to make my own cloth pads and I knew when my periods came back from their post-baby hiatus I would be investing in a menstrual cup. 
Then the day came. First period back after having a baby. It was a flood, as if the gates of hell had opened or something equally horrific. I was bleeding through a ‘super’ tampon and a pad in an hour several times a day for several days before it calmed down. I ran out of clean trousers and ended up housebound for the rest of the week. My periods were always on the heavy side but this was next level.

That was the final straw. 

I ordered a Fleur Cup multi pack (1x small and 1x large) and the next month I took on the world. I used the small at first because I was a little intimidated but it was a little uncomfortable. The large, on the other hand, is very possibly perfect for me*. It holds around 2.5x the amount of fluid as a ‘super’ tampon so even on the heaviest days I was getting a good couple of hours between changes.
What a gained from using the cup was mostly my freedom, I wasn’t housebound on my heavier days and I was able to sleep comfortably at night without an itchy plastic pad bothering me (and not even catching the blood like it’s supposed to). I am not producing as much plastic waste and, financially, I have already started saving money. The cups were £16 for the pair and I have been using one for almost 2 years, in which time I would have spent £75 or more on disposable sanitary products.

But it’s more than that :

  • It has given me a confidence in talking about my body. I have literally sat in the pub and spoken to a group of men about my periods and shown them the cloth pads that were in my bag without even a single second of shame. 
  • It has alerted me to the cost of periods and the extent of period poverty, I hadn’t even realised some of the things that women and young girls go through when they are menstruating.
  • It has stopped me from dreading my periods. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I look forward to bleeding heavily for a week at a time but I don’t fear it anymore. I don’t cry when it comes anymore. I just pop my cup in and go about my business. 
People have called me dramatic for saying it changed my life but when you think that (usually) a quarter of your life from around 13 to 45 years old is spent menstruating it doesn’t seem all that dramatic after all. 

Picture series demonstrating the half diamond menstrual cup fold
Half Diamond Fold for inserting a cup

*I am often asked for recommendations for cups but that is a very personal thing, we are all very different shapes and sizes and some of us are more active or have a
stronger pelvic floor – these things all make a difference so I would recommend using the Put A Cup In It quiz to find out what cup is likely to suit you


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My D.I.Y fun toddler game part 2- smiley sorting faces game!

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Who doesn’t love smiley faces?!

I’ve dabbled with trying to show Imogen the names of different colours. We’ve got books with them in and she’s got coloured shape sorting toys but I realised that colours isn’t something we have really looked at through play. Imogen really loves sorting things and putting them in to boxes, so I had a little think, and a little look on Pinterest for some ideas. I started dyeing some dry pasta and cereal and thought, now what?! Just getting my daughter to sort them into coloured pots, I thought, could be made more fun. So this is when I came up with this simple idea, which took next to no time at all to set up. The only thing that takes a bit of time is waiting for the food colouring to dry. Some of the colours are a bit  more stubborn than others to dry though!

I hope you and your little ones enjoy this and you can make this game from items you have around your home.
What you need:
4 handfuls of dry pasta or cereal, (whatever you have in your cupboard and is a suitable size for your child),
Different food colouring, (you can use paint but if your child is still putting things in their mouth then food colouring might be the better option),
4 plastic bowls, (they don’t need to be coloured but mine were red, green, blue and yellow, which I just so happened to have),
Paper,
Coloured pens or pencils,
Sticky tape,
Scissors,
A bigger bowl to draw around,
A container to mix the food dye in,
A spoon,
Some kitchen towel.
Make the game in 4 easy steps:

1) Add some drops of food dye into the container with one handful of dry pasta/cereal and mix thoroughly with the spoon. Lay it on the kitchen towel to dry overnight. Continue this with the other colours, so that the rest of the pasta is different colours. I used red, blue, green and yellow dyes.

2) Turn the bigger bowl upside down on your paper and draw around it to make the circles for each of your smiley faces. Then cut them out.

 
3) Draw your smiley face’s eyes onto your circle with your coloured pens. Next you need to cut the mouths out. If you fold the circles in half, so the eyes are both on one side, this makes it easier to cut. I then coloured around the mouths. Repeat for all four circles.

4) Tape the smiley faces to the tops of each of your bowls, corresponding to the colours of your bowls.

Then it’s time to play!

Mix your coloured pasta and cereal together. The game is for your little one to try to match the colour of the pasta with the right smiley face’s mouth. It’s as simple as that! I did think about adding more to the game, but I think for toddlers and pre-schoolers it is okay for the game to be this simple. You could add new colours to the game and different items. You could even introduce tweezers to pick up the pasta or cereal, to help your child with their hand-eye coordination. If the faces get ripped, then it is easy to replace them.

Imogen didn’t want to stop playing this game and I was so pleased to watch her get the hang of it. We started her off with just two colours to begin with. We did find the Cheerios were starting to disappear, so I was relieved I used the food colouring instead of the paint!

Let us know if you tried it!

How to entertain a toddler without spending a penny.

I am so excited about Christmas. The tree has gone up early, I seem to have bought pretty much everything. I’ve planned some Christmas activities for my little one for the month of December. But what do you do when you don’t want to give your toddler any new things to play with, because their toys are waiting in a cupboard to be wrapped, and you’re living off a budget because your money has either been spent, or is going towards all the food and other bits and pieces your money disappears on at this time of year? The weather is also not enticing me to spend much time outside, even with layers on!

I’ve been coming up with some free activities to do at home with my toddler who is a bit bored of her usual toys. She had fun, so I wanted to share these activities with you. Let me know if you try any of them and please share your ideas with us, as we can give them a go before Christmas!

Music time.
Ok, I get it, you’re probably thinking, why Charlotte, why would you want to add to the noise levels you’re already experiencing as a parent?! Well we quite enjoy trying to play some rhythms to songs. I put on some nursery rhymes and we’ll play some instruments, which I’ve separated from the rest of my daughter’s toys, for ‘music time’. If you don’t have any, get the ol pots and pans out with the wooden spoons and have a little sing song. You’re not in front of a judging panel, so who cares if you’re not Mariah Carey? We filled some empty plastic bottles with dry pasta, corn kernels, rice and buttons and used them as shakers. For extra safety you can put some tape round the lids. You could even do this to Christmas songs!

A teddy bear’s picnic.
If you go down to the woods today… Nope, no way… Not in this weather. So what better way to bring a bit of sunshine into your home than to lay out a blanket, sit the teddies round and enjoy a bit of make believe fun. This is when you realise just how vast your toddler’s soft toy collection is getting! My daughter doesn’t have a toy tea set or anything like that yet. It’s something I want to get when she’s a bit older, so what we used instead were some of her plastic bowls, plates and spoons. We even got some empty milk bottles she’s not really used. I put on some music and we had a lot of fun feeding the teddies at the picnic.

If you’re interested, this is the play list we used. I picked some old time classic children’s tunes:

Teddy Bear’s picnic- Bing Crosby
Fuzzy Wuzzy (wuz a bear) – Andrea McArdle
The Bee Song – Arthur Askey
Nellie the Elephant – Mandy Miller
Run rabbit run- Flanagan and Allen
The Sun Has Got His Hat On – Ambrose and his orchestra
How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? – Patti Page
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah – James Baskett

Play dough.
I knew my mum used to make this with me as a child, but I didn’t realise just how easy it is to make and from things that I had in my kitchen cupboard. If I did this again I would add the food colouring to the water, but we still had fun and what we got was more of a marble effect. It wasn’t deliberate but it didn’t bother us, we still had fun. With the amount of salt in the recipe, I kept an eye on my daughter to make sure she wasn’t eating it.

2 cups of plain flour,
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil,
1/2 a cup of salt,
2 teaspoons of cream of tartar,1 and a half cups of boiling water
And food colouring.

Mix the salt, flour and cream of tartar together in a bowl. Add the water, the food colouring and oil into the mixture and stir.

That’s it!

Road car mat.
This was probably the most time consuming activity for me to prepare. I used a piece of board I had lying around the house, but you could use a piece of cardboard. What I did was got out our permanent marker pens and drew some roads, a roundabout and some buildings onto the board. If you were arty, you might like to paint this on, use your imagination! A lot of people will have car mats already for their toddlers, but even if you have, your toddler might enjoy having a different place to drive their toy cars. You could put your house on there and ask your toddler to drive the car home. Now we have this ‘mat’, I’m able to re use it in the run up to Christmas.

These were the free activities I did with my toddler in a week. If you are looking for some fun, free activities to do and you didn’t have the pennies right now, I hope these give you some ideas. Christmas is always a time where we are made to feel as parents that we need to get our children lots of things, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to spoil your children. What I’m saying is that your toddler will be enjoying spending the time with you and won’t be worrying about the price tag.

Like I said, please share your ideas, we’d love to see and hear about them!