SFOM PEMS Groups: Providing Early Multiples Support
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™. The PEMS Program is offered throughout the year, with a new group starting almost every month.
PEMS Groups meet for 2 hours every week for 8 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 primary caregiver. 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.
- Jan 28 – March 18: Saturdays, 1 – 3 pm
- March 5 – April 30 (skip 4/16): Sundays, 3 – 5 pm
- May 6 – June 24: Saturdays, 10 am – 12 pm
- May 28 – July 16: Sundays, 5 – 7 pm
- July 5 – August 23: Wednesdays, 10 am – 12 pm
- August 26 – October 14: Saturdays, 1 – 3 pm
New Groups forming for upcoming months! Schedules will be posted when available.
The program fee for PEMS Groups is $70 per family (plus the cost of SFOM membership, if you are not already a member).
For more information, or if you are interested in registering for a group (including future groups not yet listed in the schedule above), please contact our PEMS coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include in your email: your preferred meeting group (or preferred time for a future group) and the name associated with your SFOM membership. There are 8 spaces available per group so sign up soon to reserve your spot.
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:
What if I can’t host a group in my home?
We do encourage all parents to take their turn hosting. It doesn’t matter how big or small, fancy or simple your home is.
If, for whatever reason, you aren’t able to host in your own home, you may choose to host in a public place, such as a library meeting room or community center, or you may choose to offer to help in some other way, such as organizing a group outing, or providing snacks for meetings at other members’ houses.
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, gay or lesbian parents, bi-racial families, both first-time and experienced parents, and more. All are connected by the common experience of parenting new babies.
Which Group should I choose?
PEMS groups are offered at different times, mostly based on the availability of the volunteer group facilitators. Some parents debate between attending a daytime weekday group on their own, or attending an evening or weekend group solo or with their partner. (Please note that both day and evening groups may not always be available).
There are upsides and downsides to each option:
- Daytime weekday groups are typically moms only. Many participants like being in this all-female environment, and feel like it offers a great opportunity to really explore what it means to be a mom. Many parents find friendships in their Group, then go on to do other daytime events together: playdates, walks in the park, or enrolling in other mother-baby programs (yoga, music classes, dance classes, etc.) together. On the downside for day groups: Getting yourself and babies to a group without help. Sometimes partners are disappointed to miss out on the experience. Also, most daytime groups have a mix of moms who stay home, moms who work outside the home part-time and moms who return to work full time. This can make it challenging to accommodate everyone’s schedule if the group wants to continue meeting once the 8-week session formally ends.
- Evening and weekend groups are typically couples, with a few parents attending solo. Many participants report loving the diverse perspectives brought in by men and women, working parents and non-working parents. Evening and weekend groups tend to be more laid back and social, and many families say that they like that the whole family belongs to the group. On the downside for evening and weekend groups: Many babies are fussier in the evening than the daytime, so there may be more crying babies. Also, some families find that they’re too tired in the evening to enjoy a group (especially if they’ve been at work all day). It may be hard to commit weekend time for 8 weeks as well.
What if I’m flexible with my availability?
If you don’t have a time of day preference and are open to the first group available, you can let us know your first choice and also add that you are flexible.
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 less 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!
- New Baby or New Mother classes at hospitals are typically taught by a nurse or parenting educator, and have a planned curriculum, focusing on health care and baby care for infants under 4 months of age.
- Listening Mothers Groups are led by professional therapists, and focus on the emotional changes that mothers experience and the development of the mother / baby relationship.
- MOMS, MOPS, La Leche League, Attachment Parenting, and a variety of church-based groups also exist. These often serve a wide range of parents, whose children may be anywhere from birth to age 4.
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, 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.
I hear that PEPS Groups often meet for years. Will my PEMS 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!
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.
Groups also may choose to have guest speakers at a few of their sessions, who have unique knowledge about certain topics to share.
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.
More questions? Ready to register?
Email to register or with any additional questions you may have.