Wingmom is a Support Community for Busy Parents
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In September 2016, Kate Maxwell realized her worst imaginable nightmare: Police knocked on her door with news that her firefighter fiancé, Lt. Chris Leach, had perished in a house fire while on duty.
“My world changed in an instant,” says Maxwell, a framed photograph of Chris perched beside her on a windowsill in her Arden home. “For nine months, there were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed.”
A mother of two young sons, Maxwell relied on family and close friends to help pick up the pieces. “They took my boys to school, cooked, came over and did our dishes,” Maxwell says.
The following January, she and a friend hatched a business called Wingmom that would pay those types of favors forward. They each signed up to drive for Lyft and Uber, hoping to help busy parents shuttle their kids around.
But soon they realized they could do much more. “Beyond kids’ rides, we wanted to offer babysitting, laundry services, grocery shopping—everything that was done for me,” Maxwell says. “I have one client whose husband has no clue that I’m there one day a week picking the laundry up off the porch, washing it and putting it away!”
They even offer airport rides with complimentary car seats—a lifesaver for single parents or families who don’t want to leave their car at the terminal.
Wingmom—now comprising a team of 30, plus its spinoff Wingdad, which helps with handy work like cleaning gutters—has soared to new heights ever since, also expanding services to include personal home assistance (waiting for the cable guy, meal prep, house organization) and helping the 60-plus generation.
“Many women in my ‘sandwich generation’ are taking care of their kids and their aging parents,” Maxwell explains. “We do things like help get them to doctors’ appointments or downsize their homes, and even help clean out houses after a parent has passed away for moms who can’t bring themselves to do the task.”
Bonnie Dudley, a wife and mother of three, was one client who reached out to Wingmom for help with a parent.
“My godmother was diagnosed with cancer, and I needed someone to take her to chemotherapy,” she says. “For two years, Kate was the person I trusted to be another daughter for my godmother, and she became like a sister to me.”
When Maxwell’s co-founder recently moved on to focus on her other business, Dudley eagerly hopped on board.
“For me, Wingmom was that breath that I could take, knowing I wasn’t in this alone,” Dudley says. “And that’s what we really love giving to moms: that relief of knowing they’re in good hands—whether we’re giving the identity back to a mom who wants to go back to work, or a sense of comfort and ‘family’ for someone who might not have any here. And we’re only a text away.”
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In April, Wingmom also added the option to schedule online, so the 25 to 30 parents it serves each day throughout Delaware and beyond can easily book appointments or communicate with their kids’ drivers—all of whom must get a Z endorsement from the DMV, which says they’re qualified to drive commercially.
Moms are also vetted through “Facebook stalking,” Maxwell jokes. “If they’re not willing to accept my friend request so I can poke around and see what type of person and parent they are, that’s a red flag,” she says.
Wingmom requires federal background checks and references, as well as safety and first aid training.
“The whole process is so rewarding,” Maxwell says. “Not only are we helping moms get through their day, but we’re also employing stay-at-home moms who wouldn’t normally be able to work and contribute to their families.
“Are you stuck in a meeting and can’t get to the bus stop to pick up your kid on time? You can call us last-minute. Are you a mom who has only one day to work with us? We’ll find a job for you for that one day. And, if you need something we can’t do, we’ll find someone for you who can.”
While Wingmom has garnered a Facebook following of more than 80,000 users (thanks in part to its hilarious or helpful posts about parenting), many don’t realize it’s an actual business, Maxwell says. She hopes to bring awareness to that fact, and ultimately help more people.
“I am still grieving my loss,” she says. “And helping other moms—some who are also grieving the loss of a spouse—is what I get up for every morning.”
For information and rates, visit wingmomde.com. Published as “Moms Who Mean Business ” in the May 2020 issue of Delaware Today magazine.