SFOM PEMS Groups: Providing Early Multiples Support
SFOM is a member of the PEPS Network™. We offer peer-support groups for families with newborn multiples, based on the PEPS model (www.peps.org).
The PEMS program is designed for parents to attend with their babies, aged 0-16 weeks old (adjusted age) when the group starts. All our groups can be attended by one parent plus a partner and babies. Groups meet for 10 consecutive weeks (2 hours per week) with time for parents to share highs and lows, discuss a topic, and socialize.
Our PEMS groups pivoted to online meetings with everything else during the pandemic but we found a silver lining! Our groups, which may be geographically distant, continue to meet seamlessly (and without the fear of throwing off the babies’ schedule!). Right now groups are meeting for ten consecutive weeks, with groups 5 and 10 are in person, and the rest of the meetings are virtual. *This may continue to shift as our reality shifts.
The PEMS Program is offered throughout the year and new groups are forming for future months! Groups can meet anytime that works for the SFOM leader’s schedule (daytime, evenings, weekdays, or weekends). Co-leadership is also possible. Schedules will be posted when available.
PEMS OFFERINGS in 2023*
- October 14 – December 16: Saturdays 10am-12pm
- August 1 – October 3: Tuesdays 10am-12pm
- June 7 – August 9: Wednesdays 6pm-8pm
- March 4 – May 6: Saturdays 9am-11am
- January 10 – March 21: Tuesdays 1pm-3pm (skipping February 21)
PEMS Offerings in 2024*
- January: Saturdays 10am to noon (tentative start date: January 18)
*These groups will follow a 10-week meeting structure, meeting virtually for most meetings and in-person for weeks 5 and 10.
More about PEMS
Seattle Families of Multiples (SFOM) is a member of the PEPS Network™. We offer small age-based groups for families with multiples, targeting adjusted age 0-4 months, which are based on the model for parent peer-support groups used by PEPS – The Program for Early Parent Support™.
PEMS Groups meet for 2 hours every week for 10 weeks. Meetings include time for new parents of multiples to share their challenges and joys, learn about babies’ development and learn songs and activities to do with their babies, and to have a facilitated discussion on a parenting topic chosen by the group. Participants are welcome to attend with both parents or just the one. Most families bring all the babies, though you are welcome to attend with one or none. Our goal is for the meeting to work for you. Older siblings will need to have alternate arrangements and may not attend meetings.
COST: The program fee for PEMS Groups is $70 per family, plus the cost of SFOM membership (if you are not already a member), which will provide your family with a connection to our community and access to all the events and benefits SFOM offers. Need-based financial assistance may be available, upon request.
REGISTER: For more information, or if you are interested in registering for a group (including future groups not yet listed in the schedule above), please fill out this brief survey. There are typically about 8 spaces available per group so sign up soon to reserve your spot.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
PEMS groups are based on PEPS™ groups, which have been bringing Seattle area parents together for 30 years.
Here are some common questions that parents sometimes have about this kind of peer-support groups model:
Is this group a good fit for me? Is it limited to certain types of families?
ALL families are welcome. Groups reflect the wide diversity of the Seattle area, with a range of age, race, religion, income, education, political views, and so on. Groups include adoptive parents, single parents, LGBTQ parents, bi-racial families, both first-time and experienced parents, and more. All are connected by the common experience of parenting new babies.
What do parents say about their PEMS Group experience?
“As a first time mother of multiples, joining a PEMS group is the single most important piece of advice I would give to new/expecting mothers of multiples.”
“Even though it is still a challenge getting out-and-about with twins, being a part of a PEMS group pulls us out of the house. Our gatherings are always the highlight of our week.”
“Meeting other parents with multiples and seeing how their experiences compare to our own. We feel like we are less alone because everyone has tough times with twins.”
“Our leader was excellent. We felt incredibly lucky to have this community.”
How does this group compare to other groups and classes?
In Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of postpartum support groups, and early learning opportunities. It can be hard to sort through all your options to find the support that meets your needs, although there are definitely fewer activities focused specifically for parents of multiples. Because PEMS is provided by SFOM, you can be assured that all of the participants in your group, and in the wider SFOM organization that you will be connected with, understand what it is like to parent more than one baby!
There are also parent-baby classes in specific activities such as gymnastics, swimming, music, and yoga. Many participants have participated in multiple types of classes and programs, and they report that they found value in each type of program. Parents who have participated in a variety of groups report that the things they liked best about their PEPS-based group were:
- Community – seeing the same group of parents each week for several weeks, which allowed them to build strong, supportive relationships. Seeing the same babies week after week helped them to better understand their own babies’ developmental phases.
- Mutual support – sharing experiences and learning from other parents who were at the same stage in their early parenting journey as they were, as well as learning from the leader, who is an experienced parent.
- Predictability – PEPS-based Groups follow the same routine every week: sharing highs and lows, developmental moment/songs, break time, and discussion. This familiar routine is comforting for new parents who may feel like very few things are predictable when there are new babies in the house!
- Variety – Some other programs focus only on baby care, or only on singing songs, or only on emotional development. At a PEPS-based group like PEMS, you get it all! Many Groups also plan informal outings together, such as walks around the lake, Mom’s Nights Out, playdates, or enrolling in other classes as a group.
Your volunteer leader will facilitate the group for eight weeks. Parents are then encouraged to continue meeting on their own for as long as they wish. Some groups choose to stop meeting, some continue for a while but then drift away, but some groups continue to meet for years, supporting each other through preschool, first days of kindergarten, even through the challenges of adolescence and beyond!
We can’t guarantee how long your PEMS group may choose to stay together. However, we will give you tools to help you get started, and you are encouraged to take advantage of the variety of opportunities available through SFOM, such as club events, the Year One program, family meetups, and parents’ nights out. Beyond that, it’s up to you and your fellow group members to make it the experience you want it to be!
Is PEMS a parent education program?
You will learn a great deal about babies and parenting by attending PEMS. However, a majority of the learning comes from sharing information with other parents, observing other parents and their babies, and participating in facilitated discussions that guide you in exploring your own values and priorities for your family.
Every PEMS Group is filled with experts – you, the parents! You’re all learning new things about parenting every day, and your group’s leader(s) can help guide you on this journey. PEMS provides a curriculum for group leaders, which offers an overview of each parenting topic, a summary of vital research information and current trends in parenting advice, and resources for more information. Your leader may also offer additional handouts, or email articles related to the week’s topic. Your leader’s role is not to be an authoritative educator, lecturing you in the “one right way to parent.” Instead, he or she will facilitate the sharing of information amongst group members.
Can I be in a PEMS Group and a PEPS Group?
Yes! Some parents of multiples also choose to be in a PEPS Newborn Group in their neighborhood with other parents with single babies around the same age as their own. To do that, just register for a PEPS Newborn Group here. Note that there is a separate cost to participate in each program.
I’m an experienced parent of multiples! Can I lead a group?
Yes, please! SFOM is entirely volunteer-run, and we are always looking for experienced parents of multiples to lead upcoming groups. We train leaders to facilitate PEMS group meetings, and all basic materials and resources for the weekly topics are provided to the leaders. Groups meet for a series of 10 weeks (2 hours per week). As a leader, you can pick the meeting schedule that works for you, though weekend groups and weekday evening groups are definitely the most popular for new families of multiples. Groups can be facilitated by a single leader or by co-leaders (who may attend all meetings together, or alternate weeks). Past PEMS Leaders have enjoyed this role because they get to provide a space for new families to learn together during a focused series of weeks. And, participants frequently report that their PEMS group was one of the most pivotal experiences as a new parent. We have many leaders who enjoy it so much that they return to lead another group a few months or a year later, as their schedule allows. Time commitment is about 4 hours per week for 10 weeks (preparing for meetings, travel time, facilitating meetings, and following up after meetings, as needed). Thank you for your interest in supporting these newest SFOM families! Interested group leaders can fill out our interest form.
Email us with any additional questions you may have about being in a group (or leading a group).