The other day someone asked me if I take the children to lots of groups. Well no, actually I don’t. We can’t go to groups you have to pay for because taking two makes it really expensive. And in my experience toddler groups don’t work with twins.
The first toddler group we went to was in the local village hall and at the end of the session there was a singing time. Everybody sat in a circle on the floor with their (one) child on their knee, and I managed to grapple my two onto mine. Then they decided to sing ‘Ring-a-ring-a-roses’ and everyone stood up. And looked at me. Now my two were about 13 months old at the time, not walking, and getting tired and grizzly. I knew if I got up with one I wouldn’t be able to pick the other one up (I’ve only recently mastered this, since they’ve been steady on their feet – before that I found it impossible unless I could lift them from their cots). So the only thing I could do was to get up and move, from the floor, holding both babies. I nearly gave myself a hernia. And everybody watched, someone said “oh, wow!” and nobody offered to help. I wasn’t impressed, I wasn’t there to be a freak show. We didn’t go back.
The second toddler group I tried seemed a bit better, initially. Until one of the bigger boys decided it would be fun to give my 14 month olds (one not walking by this point) a good hard shove. One after the other, as I stood one crying baby up he shoved the other one over, twice each before I managed to gather them up like a mother hen. I was horrified, the babies were really upset and the little boy’s grandmother was completely oblivious, having a natter on the corner. And when I went to speak to the person in charge all she did was to go and tell the grandmother, who did nothing. It became apparent that it was the kind of setup where children could do whatever they wanted and there would be no consequences. As a nursery teacher myself, not my kind of place, and I didn’t feel like it would be possible to watch, and protect, both my children all the time. We didn’t go back.
One group we do go to is our local twins’ group. It’s been a bit of a lifeline for me from the beginning, having first popped in when I was still pregnant and then starting to take the babies when they were 8 weeks old. There was always someone to feed a baby for me and all the mummies had been through what I was going through and could offer masses of support and advice. I still find this now – everyone mucks in and helps each other, and each others’ children, and I have made some good friends.
When I told this to the person who asked me about groups, I felt faintly embarrassed, like I was being critical of mums of singletons (like her!) I don’t mean to be critical at all, I have just found it really hard going to places where people stare at you because you are ‘the twin mum’ and don’t seem to see when you are struggling. I’m sure there are plenty of toddler groups where people give and receive brilliant support, but sadly I haven’t managed to find them yet.
We did try one paid group which was good. It was a messy play group and I took my dad because I knew it would be impossible to do it on my own. We went for a trial session which cost me SEVEN POUNDS and if we wanted to continue we would have had to sign up for a twelve week term at a cost of around ONE HUNDRED POUNDS!!!! I’m sorry, you run a lovely group but it’s nothing I couldn’t do at home with my little ones for a fraction of the cost. We didn’t go back.