Ask the Mum Chat

castaimage0Casta Littlewood and her son Blake

Local resident Emily Potter became a first-time mother during the first lockdown. Luckily for her, she made contact with Super Mum Casta Littlewood, whose WhatsApp groups have been a lifeline to many

Lockdown babies. Whoever thought that would be a thing? I gave birth to my lockdown baby only a few days after the government ordered everyone to stay at home due to the pandemic. But lockdown first-time mothers? Well, this concept was rather overlooked.

During my pregnancy, I’d imagined a maternity leave of meeting fellow mums over leisurely playgroup mornings and making new friends in the breastfeeding workshops. The reality was depressingly different, with access to very little support and being confined at home, wondering whether I’d ever get any freedom during my time off with my little one.

I was pointed in the direction of local Super Mum Casta Littlewood. She had the foresight to create a world of networks for mums in the Redbridge area, setting up a series of WhatsApp chat groups to support women on parenting topics. I tentatively joined the ‘Mum Chat’ to see what was happening. Need to find a nursery? Having trouble deciding which car seat to buy next? Which strategies work best for a fussy eater? Simple! Just ask the Mum Chat. The queries weren’t always limited to parenting; sourcing a reliable plumber, helium balloons for parties at the last minute or tasty takeaways on a Friday night. Ask away and your question is answered within minutes! What works so brilliantly is the access to several hundred mothers at your disposal to help. Not only can mums ask for help but share their own experiences and bond with other mums, removing a lot of the isolation but also building self-worth in supporting others.

Popularity grew. The more mums joined, the more questions were asked, and the greater the wealth of knowledge on the chat. As lockdown eased, I joined more of Casta’s WhatsApp chats on other topics; timetables for baby classes, swapping of toddler clothes, even a science thread explaining fact-based Covid research, sometimes quicker than the press could publish. Soon enough, a waiting list to enter had formed as the groups attracted mothers from Epping to East Ham.

I’ve found these groups to be a true source of quality information and support. And I’ve made some lovely friends. I received advice that helped me diagnose my baby’s croup within 30 seconds to get quicker medical support, and ideas enabling me to win a flexible working contract. Nowadays, if I have a question, my partner’s default response has become ‘ask the Mum Chat’. He even requested the latest on buying petrol during the crisis and managed to avoid the queues!

So, I write this on behalf of all the local mums to give credit to Casta for managing these groups – you are a modern-day heroine of mothers. A huge thank you and best of luck in your new project, PlayHubs.

For more information on PlayHubs – a children’s activities and parenting information hub – visit playhubs.co.uk