Thursday, May 31, 2018

Period Poverty

I'm seeing a lot of articles popping up in my feeds this week about period poverty. Most of them appear to be written by people who have never actually experienced it, trying to reduce the issue to whether a single tampon works out at 5p or 50p, and it is grinding my gears.

Periods are not consistent. There is no incredible One Box of sanitary products that covers one woman's needs for one period. You have heavy days, light days. You have times when it's best to use a super plus tampon and an overnight pad both at once, and you have times when either of those products would just be amazingly uncomfortable. It also wouldn't be economical - as a rule, night pads are more expensive than "regular" pads which are in turn more expensive than panty liners, but if you tried to get through a heavy day with just regular pads you'd need to use a dozen of them. To deal with one period, you need more than one product.

Whatever products you need though, even if you only need one of each, you have to buy multipacks. This is the thing really upsetting me about the pennies-per-pad calculations. The only way you can buy one pad, or one tampon, is from vending machines in ladies' loos which, last time I had cause to use one, is £1 a time (and might be more now). In the real world, we buy packs of 14. Or 12. Or 10. Or 50. A challenge for those snide writers of articles sagely declaring that the mega value bundle from UltraPoundwiseUniverse gets it down to a penny per pad: I'll punch you in the stomach a few times, put clothespins on your nipples, and fill your pants with loo roll, raw egg whites, and food dye, and then you can take your calculator on the bus and go shopping around for the best deal, yes? And don't forget, you can't do it while you're at work, and if you're unemployed you've got to fit it around doing your compulsory job applications and you have to take your kids with you.

Don't tell me we should bulk buy ahead of time, either. If you're experiencing period poverty you're likely experiencing other forms of poverty too. Your room in the b&b "temporary housing" does not have a pantry, under-stairs cupboard, loft, basement, shed, or any other storage space. Odds are you can't store anything in the shared bathroom either, even IF it's clean enough to consider doing so (mooncup evangelists, I'm looking at you as well now).

Of course, having bought your packet of 12 pads, you probably will use the remaining 11, because on average, for most people who have periods, it's something that happens almost every month for 30-35 years, for about 6 days in every 28.

But this is where tight budgeting comes in. Let's say it's day 5 of your period, it's light flow and almost over. You need three more pads. You've got two. There is £2.47 in your purse for the next two days. A packet (remember, you can only buy a whole packet!) of regular pads costs about £1.40 at the local shop (it's cheaper at the big supermarket but not if you add the bus fare). Do you (a) spend a sizeable chunk of your remaining cash on a pack of pads when you only need one, or (b) use the two you've got and then do your best with loo roll?

Period poverty isn't just about it costing £120 over the course of a year. When you're in actual poverty a year is an unthinkably long time and even a month is too far off to be planning. All of your Cope is taken up with making it through to the next payday and things that are "only" a couple of pounds might still be a couple of pounds more than you've got.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

11/52 2018

Week 11
12 - 18 March


This weekend we had a very special outing - we were invited to visit a local recycling firm so that Jamie could admire some bin lorries up close.

Inspecting bin lorry

Conditions weren't ideal - Jamie is on day 2 of a sniffle, and it was snowing - but from his safe vantage point on his daddy's shoulders he got to have a good look and he definitely did enjoy himself. He didn't quite feel confident enough to sit up in the driver's cab though!

Back of bin lorry

Big thank you to Fortress Recycling.

Friday, March 16, 2018

10/52 2018

Week 10
05 - 11 March

Halfway down the stairs

We were all rather horribly ill this week, which is probably why, instead of enthusiastically clomping or sliding down the stairs, Jamie felt it necessary to stop halfway and do his best Robin the Frog impression.

09/52 2018

Week 9
26 February - 04 March

Jamie's kitchen

This is Jamie at his play kitchen, positioned in our hallway by the door to the grown-up kitchen so that he can join in without getting underfoot. In this picture he seems to be frying a nice nutritious bottle of Early Learning Centre washing up liquid - he also has a tendency to put toy cars in his microwave - but his favourite cooking activity is to give everyone cups of tea. His teapot is usually on the hob, and generally people are given a cup with an item of play food to enjoy while he keeps everyone topped up.

Friday, March 02, 2018

08/52 2018

Week 8
19 - 25 February

Back yard

Jamie isn't quite as interested in going out in the yard as he was last year. I don't know why - it could be the weather, it could be that he has more interesting indoor toys now, it could just be that he now has the capacity to give a clear verbal refusal and tell me what he would prefer to do. But this week, we went out in the yard, and we tidied the plant pots, and we did experimenting with the ice on top of the bucket, and we pulled out the Little Tikes car.

For me, seeing him out here again really underlined how much he has grown and how much more mobile he is.

07/52 2018

Week 7
12 - 18 February


Jamie is working on his last four molars and his fingers are more or less permanently in his mouth.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

06/52 2018

Week 6
05 - 11 February

Foundry Woods

I wasn't actually present when this picture was taken. Steve took Jamie for a Daddy Outing to Foundry Wood, which is one of those rare places where I really wish I could go (it's a lovely outdoors natural environment community project with an interesting activities program), physically cannot go (there's only one entrance and that is a steep dirt track way beyond the capabilities of either wheelchair), and yet I can make my peace with the inaccessibility (natural environment, etc) as long as someone ensures that Jamie isn't missing out.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, while I'm trying to soak up and enjoy all of Jamie's childhood it is also good for me to have a couple of hours OFF every now and again.

Anyway, Jamie and Daddy both loved it. They came home and showed me dozens of pictures of an absolutely idyllic time discovering all manner of interesting things. Choosing just one was difficult but I do love Jamie's happy little face in this one.

Monday, February 26, 2018

05/52 2018

Week 5
29 January - 04 February

Train set

Having demonstrated both love for and technical aptitude with train sets at nursery and on play dates, we took the plunge and got a Brio starter set, plus an extra bridge, a couple of wagons, and a packet of various sizes of piece for adjustments.

Admittedly adults are still required to create closed-loop tracks. Perhaps we should get some buffers instead.

04/52 2018

Week 4
22 - 28 January

Big playground

Another cold, wet playground. But. This is not the toddler frame. He is way up high, and managed to get up there by himself. I was impressed.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

03/52 2018

Week 3
15 - 21 January

Orange coat

Another cold, wet, yet cheerful morning at a park. Steve took this photo; I'm the blue and grey blur in the background. Jamie was running back and forth between the two of us laughing his head off.

02/52 2018

Week 2
08 - 14 January

Pratchett exhibition

This is Jamie at the Terry Pratchett exhibition at Salisbury Museum. Jamie does not yet have the encyclopaedic Discworld knowledge of his parents, but he does enjoy Where's My Cow and recognises the portrait of the late Sir Terry on Young Sam's bedroom wall. He behaved beautifully at the museum (and the cathedral) and while the trip was more for me and Steve than for Jamie, we feel glad that he was there too.

01/52 2018

After a lot of dithering I decided to do the 52 project again. Yes, it's February already, and a late start. Yes, my timekeeping was terrible last year. From a social media guru perspective I might as well not bother. But from a parent perspective, I really enjoy having a collection that is just one photo a week to enable me to watch him grow without a disproportionate focus on big events where dozens of pictures were taken.

If I ever *really* get my act together I might try and have each year printed up into an actual physical photo book to keep, but my imagination is tempered by low self esteem.

Week 1
01 - 07 January

As you can tell from the rain, the hood, and the colour of Jamie's nose, this was a cold wet morning at the playground. We needed it, though, and he wasn't the only one smiling.


Thursday, January 04, 2018

52/52 2017

Week 52
25 - 31 December

New toys

Jamie got no fewer than five fire engines for Christmas this year. He loves the emergency services as part of his wider affinity for all large vehicles and, although we haven't explained the nitty gritty of fires, car crashes, death, injury, criminality and so forth, he has thoroughly absorbed the concept that blue lights mean they're rushing to help people, and is happy about that. If you ask him about them he will say "help people" long before he gets to "nee-nah" which confuses outsiders.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

51/52 2017

Week 51
18 - 24 December


Jamie is always interested in what other people are doing and is almost always interested in tech. Steve doesn't want to have to shut himself away every time he's using his laptop, so as a rather neat solution, Jamie now has one of Steve's old wireless keyboards enabling them to both happily clatter away typing together.

50/52 2017

Week 50
11 - 17 December

The first day of proper snow, Jamie hated it, largely because it was still falling and getting in his face. On the second day, he was adamant that he Did Not Want to go out.

So, my PA offered a Plan. She would go outside and play right in front of the window and attract his attention. I would wait for him to get interested and then wrestle the snowsuit onto him. Then she would open the door and he'd be able to simultaneously break free from me and get a better look at what she was doing and wouldn't realise he'd gone out in the snow until he was out in the snow.


It worked like a charm and he had a great time.

Bonus video footage: