Two words that can send the fear of God into some mums, at the same time as filling others with glee.
Okay, glee might not be QUITE the right word – I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever felt ‘gleeful’ about going to a baby group, but you get my meaning. You either love them or hate them. Often coinciding with loving or hating the ‘types’ of mums who go too. (Did I just say that?)
When Toddler came along I was ALL about the baby groups, trying every single one available, every day of the week. It wasn’t necessarily to meet people as I’d already bought my six best mum friends by paying £220 for a NCT course, although I have met a few fabulous other girls at them too.
No, it was for all the STIMULATION and DEVELOPMENT Toddler would get from them! I mean, seriously, how will he be accepted into Oxbridge if he’s not played peekaboo with a yellow chiffon scarf from the age of 3 days old?
As a first time mum, this was obviously a priority (maybe not the Oxbridge bit), and clearly all good pushy mums want their babes to learn singing, signing, swimming, dancing, gymnastics, drum-playing, yoga and even a bit of French before they are three months old? I mean, who cares if he can’t walk or talk yet – WE MUST GO TO BABY GROUPS OR HE WILL FAIL IN LIFE!
Clearly I am taking the piss. And out of myself as well, as I was indeed one of those mums that tried them all – with the exception of massage, yoga and French. I knew my limit. I even attempted a few signing classes before my (paid for) friends and I realised our babies hated them and it was all a little bit awkward.
So on a weekly basis, off Toddler and I would go to Jo Jingles, Baby Sensory, Waterbabies, Gymbubbas, Sing and Sign, even dabbling in a bit of Diddy Dance, Messy Play, Creative Caterpillars and the library’s Rhyme Time if it was a rainy Thursday afternoon.
It took up most of our week – and also a fair chunk of our monthly income too. But I was happy to fork out the Other Half’s hard-earned cash not only for the improved Oxbridge chances, but to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
Because let’s face it, who wants to stay at home with a baby? I definitely did not. I mean, what do you DO with them? (apart from wave that chiffon scarf in their face). Plus how are you supposed to have coffee and cake with your mates after a baby group if you stay in?
Fast forward to the slightly unfortunate current scenario of having too many babies, and things are, as you’d imagine, quite different.
We still go to groups, but we have cut down. Significantly. Saving ourselves a fortune. Sadly the money saved is spent on copious amounts of Aptamil, wet wipes and teething granules instead.
The obvious reason for cutting down is that there aren’t many groups catering for a now toddler and babies at the same time. Other than the church hall/anything goes/run by old lady type ones that can be great, but can also be UTTER CARNAGE.
Oi big kid, step the F*CK AWAY from my baby. And my other baby. And my toddler too while you’re at it. In fact, why aren’t you in school? You look about 10.
The other reason for not going to as many is:
I. CAN’T. BE. ARSED.
Going to groups with one baby is fine. Going to groups with two babies is a whole heap of effort that, quite frankly, isn’t worth it unless the session is amazing.
First you have to figure out how the hell you’re even going to get them into the building. Current strategy is one in a sling, one in the increasingly heavy car seat. Or leaving one in the car park, whilst sprinting in with the other (controversial, I know). Who knows how I’ll do it when Twin One grows out of the car seat, you can’t take the buggy in, and someone calls the police on me for leaving a baby 3ft away in a car surrounded by other mums for all of 10 seconds.
Once poised and in position it’s easy to wave a shaker in both babies faces at the same time, isn’t it? It’s anything that involves actually manoeuvring them off the floor that becomes a problem. (That’s gymnastics and swimming out the window then.)
This became all too apparent at a Baby Sensory session when the Twins were just a couple of months old. It was all going swimmingly, I was most definitely ‘twinning’ at life. I mean look at me – I‘d managed to ship Toddler off to Granny’s, get two babies out of the house before 10am (no mean feat for me) and get them both from the car into the building without slipping a disc. I am supermum.
Until it was puppet show time, and we had to ‘gather round’ in a circle with our babies on our laps. Okay I had a big enough lap, but I didn’t have the skills to somehow get two delicate newborns onto it at the same time without hurting them/dropping them/dislocating a shoulder. But I managed it somehow.
Only to find? Some other mum had plonked her arse slap bang in front of me blocking our view completely. I literally could have cried, (or punched her in the face). For the very first time, with tears welling up (yes, I do have a heart) I felt like I couldn’t do the whole twin thing, and that baby groups (with their other seemingly care-free mums of ‘easy’ single babies) were no place for a mum of multiples.
So, to the woman who sat in front of me? Thanks a lot. You made me doubt myself and my ability to be a twin mum. All over a f*cking Teletubbies puppet show – that I couldn’t even see.
Then clearly I realised I was being a TOTAL dick and could most definitely do this! It was a Baby Sensory puppet show FFS. Hardly an important milestone in the Twins’ life. Then I told myself I don’t HAVE to do baby groups if it’s all just a massive pain in the arse.
But my mum guilt makes me do it. I can’t have Toddler getting As across the board in his A Levels when the Twins flunk their ‘Floppy and the Dragon’ reading test because they didn’t get the chance to ‘say hello to the sun’, can I?
So the way forward is finding help – and the right group. Both of which I’ve been lucky enough to do.
Despite the puppet show near-mummy meltdown, I’ve got a grip and we love Baby Sensory (apart from the online booking being more stressful than buying Glastonbury tickets). It was tricky to do before the Twins were able to sit but a lovely friend of mine now lends a hand. She not so secretly loves it more than I do now her children are a bit older, so we take a baby each. And when she’s not around class leader Stacey takes a twin when she can for anything requiring actual effort and also lugs one out to the car.
Before they could sit, I gave up dragging them around the floor and decided to just take it in turns. Twin One would lie there happily whilst I bounced Twin Two on the top of an inflatable pumpkin, then I’d swap for the next song. Now the main problem is keeping Twin Two still long enough to do anything.
Our other group of choice is Moo Music, going to both toddler and baby sessions in one morning. Logistics of which are only possible due to Granny coming too.
Moo class leader Lisa is a star, not only does she carry one Twin in and out for me, she has them the whole session – leaving me to concentrate on the other one. I usually give her the grumpy one who’s not napped and just had a bottle for her to throw around. Not only do I get one-to-one time with a baby, I get to see the look on the other one’s face being teacher’s pet at the front of the class. Or looking like he’s squaring up for a fight with a feather…
Two groups a week is enough to quash the mum guilt over not spending enough time with the Twins. There are still some weeks if it’s raining I can’t be arsed, and don’t go in favour of them having a mammoth nap and me drinking a hot coffee in front of my laptop.
But when I do go not only is Oxbridge back on the cards, it also gives me the PERFECT chance to take embarrassing Instagram-worthy pics to show the world and save for their 18th birthdays.