Today, I’m going to talk about a planning method that might just change your entire life. It has certainly changed mine. It’s planning based on your period. Now, if that idea embarrasses or shocks you, I get it! In American culture, we are taught not to mention our periods, and to remain steady and even-keeled through a cycle that brings many changes in our bodies and minds. But what if we embrace it instead and use its wisdom to guide our month? What if we plan based on how we feel? What if our cycle is the most predictable part of our lives?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the pandemic is that my cycle is a powerful force. I didn’t see this until my days slowed down, and my schedule went out the window. Suddenly, school was gone, and activities were gone, client work stopped, and I started noticing that the exact same routines– like making dinner– just seemed unreasonably hard during certain times of the month. At other times, these same routines felt easy, effortless and fun. Nothing in my external life had changed!
So I started to get curious about that. Reading the book Wild Power was groundbreaking for me, because it allowed me to see a pattern that was causing me unnecessary pain, anxiety, and stress and to know that I’m not alone. By planning around my cycle as often as I can, I’ve eliminated a lot of these stresses and I feel more grounded and happy. Here’s how to plan based your period, which is really a whole cycle:
The first step is to start tracking your cycle. Not surprisingly, not many women do this. I certainly didn’t. I’d tried a few times, but lost interest. Deep down, I didn’t want to admit that it changed anything in my life, because that made me feel less in control. The opposite was true though. So, if you haven’t tracked your cycle you’ll be surprised at what you learn about yourself! Start with a journal, app, or tracking sheet. Write down how you feel, what you need, and any symptoms or realizations you’re having each day. Start with the first day of your period. This is day 1.
Get my Cycle Tracking Sheet here:
Be aware of each season of the cycle:
In Wild Power, the authors Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, describe each phase of the menstrual cycle as a different inner season:
- Winter– Days 27-5
- Spring– Days 6-11
- Summer–Days 12-19
- Fall– Days 20-26
Thinking about the parts of the cycle as seasons really resonated for me. I feel the energy change in each season outside, and along with it my cravings and needs often change too. It helped me see these inner seasons as natural and grounding instead of annoying and displacing.
How does each season make you feel?
Although every woman likely experiences these seasons in slightly different ways, I’ve found the way the book describes them to be right on target for me. Here’s a little bit of how I feel in each one:
Winter: This is a time to rest. I feel very tired and like I want to be alone to do nothing. Cooking for my family feels really hard, and so does thinking of something to order for take-out! Parenting feels next to impossible. Everything I put on looks horrible to me. My mind is flowing with work ideas, and I often feel very intuitive, but if I’ve learned that this is a really bad time to act on those ideas– especially if they involve technology.
Spring: Cooking feels easy, and I want healthy food and exercise. Parenting feels easier, too, and I feel renewed energy for life. If I have something I’ve been wanting to accomplish, this is a good time to start doing it.
Summer: During this time, I want to be social and be seen. I feel unstoppable and sexy. Everything about life feels easy even if there’s a challenge or problem in my path. There’s nothing I can’t take on. Why can’t life always feel this way?!
Fall: The overwhelming way I feel is blustery. My inner critic is loud during this time pointing out all the things I need to get done before winter. This is the time I most like to organize, tidy, and write. There’s a clear day I notice that urges me to separate from everyone– my kids, friends, the world, and just get into the zone doing my thing. If I can’t do this, I feel very irritated. If I get to focus in on what I want to do, it’s the most generative and creative time of my month.
How do you plan around this?
Of course, we can’t always plan perfectly around our cycle. Sometimes we have to take our kids to get flu shots in our inner winter, for example. Our jobs and families can’t just be put to the side. But, what if we could look at our month in advance and schedule around it as best we can? What would this look like for you?
Here are some ideas:
Winter: Plan easy frozen meals, take-out, or delegate to your partner. Use paper plates and compostable forks so you don’t have to do the dishes. Go to bed early, and avoid planning late night and social outings if you can. Plan a self-care treat for yourself like a long bath or watch a movie you’ve been wanting to see. If your partner can take the lion’s share of parenting, or your kids can have some special time at their grandparents’ house even better!
Spring: Use your renewed energy to begin a project and/or takeover some of the duties you delegated in winter so your partner feels supported and reciprocated. Try new recipes or exercise routines.
Summer: Plan outings and social time. Give yourself the opportunity to be seen! I like to schedule out my Instagram posts during this time, and plan a date night with my husband. Shower your partner with support and have fun with your kids.
Fall: Block off time to focus on a creative project. Organize and make some freezer meals if the spirit moves you! Prepare your family that you will need to separate soon to do your thing, and remind them of how they can support you.
Take out your planner and start!
Even if you haven’t tracked your cycle yet, or you have an irregular cycle, you can still try out this method of planning and tweak it as you learn more about yourself. Take some time to reflect on how you feel each month, and let it be your guide when planning your calendar. Let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear from you.