The Duchess of Cambridge confessed to the “ups and downs” of parenting when she played with toddlers during a fact-finding mission about early years support for mothers and their babies.
Kate joined young mothers and their children at a centre in south London that is boosting their parenting skills through a unique programme in operation at just five sites in the UK.
When 23-month-old Kamia Perry, whose twin sister Kashay was nearby, stumbled over to the duchess the royal could not help smiling and reached out for her.
Kate had joined a “together time” session at the Henry Fawcett Children’s Centre in Oval where parents spent time watching and playing with their children to build up the confidence of the youngsters.
Finesse Perry, 31, mother of the two girls said about Kate: “She asked me what it’s like having twins and I said it’s double trouble and she said like with her own children you have your ups and downs.”
Ms Perry from nearby Stockwell also has a two-year-old son, who is close in age to the twins as they were born early, and a 12-year-old daughter.
The mother-of-four, who looked young for her age, added: “Kate asked me how old I was and said I looked like I didn’t have any kids.
“It’s been supportive coming here, I was isolated before so it’s nice to come out and meet other mums, we’ve got a lot of things in common so I can ask them lots of questions.”
Kate, who wore a Gucci blouse and trousers by Jigsaw, was also taken with Kameron Batta, aged nine months, and held out her hands as he tried to walk from his mother Kriti Batta, 35, when the parents gathered together to have a chat.
The young mother from Vauxhall, south London, said: “She was saying Louis does this and she was just helping him to balance.”
The duchess, who is mother to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and baby Prince Louis, has established a steering group to explore how best to support academics, practitioners and charities in their work to provide children with the best start in life.
Ms Batta added it felt “surreal” but “comforting” to see Kate interacting with her son: “You all just have a common connection as a mother, you understand other people’s children, even when other people’s children are climbing over you. You understand because your children do the same.”
The Lambeth Early Action Partnership (Leap) uses the centre Kate visited to provide early years services for parents and children aged up to five in parts of the borough of Lambeth.
The programme is replicated in four other areas of the UK – Bradford, Nottingham, Blackpool and Southend-on-Sea – and all have been funded under the 10-year Better Start initiative from the National Lottery Community Fund.
William and Kate met with workers who are delivering Blackpool’s project when they visited the seaside town last week.
Laura McFarlane, director of Leap, joined Kate and others in a discussion about the project and said afterwards: “It really is very important the fact that Kate has come to see at very close hand how we actually support parents in terms of developing stronger relationships with their children.
“I think the importance of intervening early she really understood that, early intervention in the early years is critical it could be the foundation on which we build better, stronger adults.”