Friendships and support on offer at twins group
SO, for one reason or another, I have been left in charge of our one-year-old twins.
It's initially going well. There are giggles and smiles.
Heidi is sitting in a ball-pool and is playing one of her favourite games which involves trying to empty it as quickly as possible.
But there's a curious rustling noise behind me. Ah, Kitty is rummaging through the baby change bag and has found a packet of biscuits.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Not only has she found them, she is surrounded by them, with one in each hand, and is munching away. Just as the crumbs et al are cleared away, there's a clunk from the other side of the room.
Heidi is happily refiling all of our DVDs using a system which appears to consist of randomly dragging them to the floor. So I return them to the shelf, paying little heed to the careful alphabetical order in which they had been ordered many moons ago, only to hear a curious miaow. Oh good, Kitty has cornered the cat.
And so on and so forth.
Being a parent of twins or multiples presents a set of unique challenges, difficulties and joys. It can be maddening and exhilarating, and almost impossible without a network of family and peers to lend support.
Whether it is being provided with the advice and tips which can help set a better daily routine, or simply a place to seek solace after a sleepless night, the comfort of being with people who know precisely what you are going through can be invaluable.
"A lot of people just need a cup of tea," said Kerstin Muggeridge, who helps run the Exeter Twins Club, "You'd be surprised how many mums and dads forget to look after themselves when they have babies to care, for so just having the chance to have a hot drink and a chat can really make a massive difference."
Around 30 families are part of the Exeter club, attending the sessions which take place on Tuesday mornings at the Beacon Heath Children's Centre – a new venue for the group – and at the Sylvania Hall in Mincinglake Park on Thursday mornings.
There are a number of baby groups in the city, but Kerstin, and many of the other parents who are attending, strongly feel this is where anyone with twins or multiples should be.
To be clear, this belief does not come from a sense the parents of multiples are somehow superior to other mums and dads; it comes back to some of the atypical problems which twins, triplets etc can throw at you and finding reassurance among those who have experienced the same thing.
"Lack of sleep was the biggest problem for me," said Kerstin, mother to Finn, as well as twins Lina and Maya. "I was determined to breastfeed for as long as possible so my husband slept in a separate room with our son and I was with the twins. Some days I was just so exhausted but I got the confidence to continue by coming to this group.
"I think there are some groups you go to where you find that parents are quite competitive about their baby's development. At twins club, there's an understanding that some of the children will have been premature and will be developing at a different pace so everyone can feel very relaxed."
The club was set up in 2008 and a new committee has just taken over. As well as the regular meetings, where children can enjoy a snack – the reason why it is remarkably peaceful when I arrive – and a host of play equipment, the club also organises outings, most recently to West Town Farm.
Maria Giles, also a committee member and mother to Ewan and Amber, said: "You come here for support and what you get is the chance to make friendships which last. Just being able to talk about what you are going through, happy or sad, can give you a massive lift."
Kerstin added: "We've had people who come here some weeks just to have a cry and let out their emotions, knowing that they're among friends who will help pick them up, and maybe take their children off their hands for a little while.
"We all look after each other."
The group also gives parents the chance to exchange baby clothes and equipment – you can never have too many babygrows or toys when twins are about.
"We welcome parents who are about to have twins or multiples too," said Kerstin. "Anyone who is 28 weeks into their pregnancy can come along and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have. We would also like to see more young parents and single parents coming along."
Kerstin is also planning to take part in breast feeding peer support training so she can offer help to anyone taking on what can be a logistical nightmare in trying to breastfeed multiples.
"I think a lot of us have found that, even in the professional healthcare system, there's not much specific help and advice available for parents of twins and multiples," said Kerstin. "We want to be in a position where we can answer as many of those 'is this normal?' and 'how do I do this?' questions as we can. This is run by parents for parents."
Anyone who wants more information, should contact Kerstin with regard to the Tuesday meetings at Beacon Heath children's centre on 07840 358550 or Maria with regard to Thursdays at the Sylvania Hall on 07967 329780. A small charge is made at the Sylvania Hall meeting to cover the cost of the morning snack and hiring the venue.
Sessions run from 10am and details are available at www.ex etertwins.org.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org