Chester Williams on raising twins

Posted on 10 June 2016

As a Springbok rugby player Chester Williams used his strength, agility and mental fortitude to become one of South Africa’s World Cup-winning heroes. He needed those attributes again when he and his wife, Maria, had twins.

When Chester and Maria became parents of twins Matthew and Chloe they didn’t really know what they were in for. He remembers, ‘Although it was challenging for me at times, I felt really sorry for Maria. She had to do a lot of the hard work while I was away from home. I was the Springbok Sevens coach when the twins were born in 2002, so I was travelling a lot. They were born around the time that the Sevens Series started and that meant I was away from home with the team for about two weeks a month.

‘It was tough for Maria and our older son, Ryan, to manage and keep things running at home. But for me it was especially difficult psychologically because I was away from home so often. Then, the short periods that I did get to spend time at home, I tried to contribute as much as possible… but there’s only so much you can really do where babies are involved! You can be there as support for your partner, and you can make sure they’re comfortable and that everything they need is there.

‘I think Maria and I managed it quite well in terms of taking responsibility. After all, it’s what we wanted: we both wanted kids, and the minute we accepted the responsibility that came with that, it was easier to manage the pressures that we were under as parents.

‘Of course there were times when one twin would wake up and the other one would sleep, or one would be hungry and the other one not… Or you’d have them both awake or both hungry! But that’s part of the responsibility of being a parent. Another part of it is making sure the children are seeing the doctor when they have to, and that they have the right nutrition, vitamins and injections to keep them healthy.

‘In some ways, it’s a lot like managing a rugby team. The players are like your children: you have to look after them and give them the support and advice they need. As a coach who is a former player, you know what the players are going through because you’ve been there yourself – so you’ll try to help them figure out what the right thing is to do. It’s the same when you’re raising children, isn’t it?’

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