Are you a menopause-friendly school?
After all, 75% of teachers are female and, whilst the number of 50+-year-old women in UK employment has been rising steadily over the past 20 years, the number of 50+-year-old women in education has dramatically reduced.
A quarter of women going through menopause have considered leaving teaching. Those that stick with it can find the demands of the job even tougher when they have menopausal symptoms and can’t, for example, pop to the loo in the middle of a lesson.
At Laughology, we’ve been supporting the police for about 5 years, to better understand menopause. How it impacts themselves, their colleagues and family members. The great news is, lots more schools and educational settings are now booking our menopause workshop for their teams too.
Here’s a taster of what they get.
Using humour and laughter can help open up new menopause perspectives and experiences
Our delivery style is different to most organisations, as we know people learn best when they’re having fun.
And whilst 25% of women go through menopause relatively easily, the rest don’t. Our sessions won’t belittle the debilitating symptoms some have but, having a bit of a laugh together gets us talking about different perspectives and experiences. Don’t worry, we won’t ask you to share if you don’t want to!
So, in the spirit of kicking off the conversation, here’s an example of seeing the humour in unusual situations.
As a headteacher, it became commonly accepted that, at some stage each day, I’d be doing the perimenopausal hokey cokey. My first deputy head got used to me flinging the window open, slamming the window shut, putting my cardi on, taking my cardi off, on, off, on, off…
Oh, how we laughed as she sat there shivering in 43 layers of clothing while I was stripping off. Having a laugh helps because, not only does it normalise and put things in perspective, it also causes our bodies to release happy chemicals such as serotonin, giving us a psychological and physiological boost.
When my deputy left (unrelated to the above, I think), my next one joined. He was also a lovely person but didn’t find it as easy to cope with my perimenopausal ways. He just wanted me to talk about data, move away from the air con and put my kit back on.
You might think responses were different due to their genders, but women often report that other women in the workplace are less empathic than men. Maybe because they haven’t yet experienced menopause or because they were in the 25% that sail through it?
You may not go through menopause yourself, but you know someone who will
People of all ages and genders come to our police sessions recognising that, although they might not go through menopause themselves, someone they know will.
One of the most poignant moments was when a male officer recognised his wife was likely going through menopause and experiencing ‘brain fog’, even though she was convinced she had early signs of dementia.
On another course, a woman explained she has trouble finding the right words. Like the time she was telling her kids she’d come home to find a camel on her bed when, in fact, it was the cat. Disappointing!
School staff rely on their memories all the time and so it can be worrying if you keep forgetting things – as well as frustrating for others. Talking through some of the things we know about menopause, including how it can affect us, debunks any myths. It also helps everyone to understand the facts and develops empathy and understanding.
How many schools have a menopause policy or plan?
I’m guessing not many, even though they do for other life events, such as pregnancy or bereavement.
Whilst we want people to enjoy our sessions, it’s important they have something to take away and put into practice too. Obviously, different solutions suit different people and situations, but here are some ideas from sessions we’ve run before:
- Avoid menstrual flooding by agreeing on a code word with your line manager, so you can excuse yourself from meetings to go to the bathroom.
- Ensure that no one gets ‘caught out’, by having a range of free sanitary products in the toilets. This doesn’t just help those going through menopause.
- Support people for whom menopause is having a negative impact on their wellbeing, by signposting to mental health professionals.
- Ensure everyone has the information they need by sharing Laughology’s menopause cheat sheet.
If that all sounds helpful to you, then please do get in touch with Laughology HQ to book some menopause training.
And, who knows, maybe it’ll be me and my cardi that rock up! I can’t promise to keep the windows closed either...
For more helpful menopause advice, why not attend our FREE Menopause webinar, Vagina is Not a Dirty Word!, on Monday 18th October? You’ll take away plenty of tips to help you.