Imagine a room full of children and parents: here are two baby boys lying on the play mat, two toddlers sitting at the craft table colouring with chalks, two tiny babies asleep in their double pram and two boys playing with the cars and trucks on the road mat. It may sound just like your average mothers and toddlers group, but look again. The boys with the cars look very similar to each other.
The mum pushing the pram has a very full changing bag. The mum sitting in a chair is balancing two little ones on her knee. The mum looking after the boys on the mat is warming two bottles of milk for feeding time.
This is our twins and multiples toddlers’ group, which happens at Worcester Park Baptist Church every Thursday morning from 9.30 am to 11.30 am.
It began last September when one of our church mums had a set of twins and visited a similar group at our local children’s centre only to discover it was soon to close. She chatted to me about starting a group in our church, alongside the two weekly toddlers’ groups we already run, and we started advertising it in local doctors’ surgeries, in Costa, and in our local free community magazine.
Since then we have welcomed about 30 different families – though fortunately not all at once! – and have had many mornings like the one I have described. Some mums have come with newborns desperate to meet other people in the same situation as them, others have been at our regular weekly groups and sent grandmas and childminders to this one as well. Some come along with just one of their twins at a time to give them some one-to-one with time with Mum.
They all immediately have something in common and I have been overwhelmed by the level of support they have offered each other: sharing clothes, equipment and advice with each other and keeping in close touch via social media. One mum was brought along by a friend when she was six months pregnant with twins to meet other families and since her babies were born has been offered help and support by the other mums.
Another mum was sitting in Costa, exhausted after a day at work, and saw our notice. A few days later her twins were born, and she brought them along to meet us. We also have a church member who used to be a maternity support worker specialising in breastfeeding support, and she has been able to offer help and advice. Breastfeeding two at once is another new skill for new mums to master.
At Christmas we held a twins Christmas party and 19 children met Father Christmas and enjoyed food together. Some joined us for our Toddler Nativity and other church events. One mum has also visited us on a Sunday morning with her two sets of twins aged six months and six years!
With many women leaving it later to have a family, the availability of fertility treatment and higher survival rates, more twins than ever are being born in the UK. A group like ours provides a safe and welcoming space for these families to share their challenges and joys together and also brings us as a church a double blessing!
Families and Children’s Worker, Worcester Park Baptist Church