Making Smiles & Spreading Joy with Katie Richardson of Puj Baby
This week’s Mom Boss is Katie Richardson, one half of the design team behind Puj, a company out to simplify parenting with fun and stylish baby gear. What I really love about Puj is that their journey came about so organically, from a situation many of us mamas have found ourselves in—completely annoyed with the baby gear that is supposed to help us parent more easily.
By the time her second child was born, Katie was frustrated by so many of the baby products on the market. They were complicated to use, ugly, and often took up way too much space. So she decided to do something about it!
Together with her husband, Ben, she got to work designing a simple, innovative baby bath to transform the entire bathing experience for infants. In 2009, they released the Puj Tub and it completely changed the way people bathed their babies.
Almost instantly, Puj was featured on national TV—shows like the Rachel Ray Show, the Ellen Degeneres Show, the Today Show. People loved how soft the “tub” was and, most importantly to Katie, their babies were loving it.
“You could say, without motherhood, I would not have a job.”
Mama to four—Walker, Truman, Sterling, and Liberty—Katie isn’t shy about saying that motherhood directly impacts her work. She says being a mother teaches her how to lead and inspire people and also to speak and market her products in a way that parents will understand. It also humbles her and gives her a sense of purpose in all that she does.
Motherhood also comes with the struggle of balance, though, so I asked Katie to share her typical schedule and some insight on how she balances work life and motherhood:
“Balance begins with me taking care of myself every day. My day starts at 5:30am when I hit the gym to push myself physically. Combined with eating healthy foods, I’ve found that a daily exercise gives me mental and emotional strength for the day. I also make a point to center myself and connect with God after my workout, through meditation and scripture study.
Around 7:30am, I help the kids get a healthy breakfast, make their lunch, and send them to school. My work day starts around 9:45, after I get myself a shower, and ends around 4, when the kids get off the bus.
At that point, I put work down and focus on being present with the family. We have a nighttime routine of stories, prayer and then each of us tuck the kids in and kiss them goodnight.
Balance is not something I discovered and then hit autopilot. It’s intentional and takes focus and dedication. But because I know what I want in life and am committed to creating the life I want, I’m able to have balance (most) days.”
“Playing and having fun is the best part of being a mom!”
I asked Katie about what she loves about being a mom, and she immediately said that she’s still a kid herself so she loves to PLAY. Painting, drawing, cutting, sewing, etc. are a daily occurrence in their home. You’re likely to find them in the kitchen experimenting with a new soup recipe or in the garage taking apart a scooter.
Stepping back in time to when she first became a mother, Katie shares that motherhood is NOTHING like she imagined. (It turns out, kids have a mind of their own!) But in the end, that’s exactly what she loves about them. They are silly, unpredictable and unconditionally in love with life.
“I learn something new every day as a mother. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I think I’m going to lose my mind… but I try to remind myself how quickly they grow up and cherish this special time I have with them today.”
After the birth of her first son, Katie shared that while she was SO HAPPY to be a mom, she also felt unrecognizable after the mental, emotional, and physical changes of pregnancy. The key, for her, to finding herself again is to listen to her inner voice and give herself permission to act on those thoughts and feelings—no matter how unrealistic or unachievable they may feel.
“A good example of this was following the birth of my 3rd son. I wanted to jumpstart my health and get back into shape… so I had this crazy idea to sign up for a Triathlon. I wasn’t really a runner or a swimmer, but I knew I could figure it out. It ended up being such an amazing experience that I signed up for 2 more.”
Katie also has a wonderful message for the new moms out there, and I’ll leave it here in her own words:
“I want you new Moms to listen to me!
Let go of the expectations.
(Let that sit for a minute before reading on.)
Let go of the EXPECTATIONS you’re putting on yourself or allowing others to place on you (even those who love you). Expectations have a way of making us feel like we are a disappointment or are falling short (but you’re NOT!).
The reality is kids are human beings with their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Despite my best efforts, I have yet to figure out how to control the actions of my kids. But I CAN control my internal dialogue and the expectations I put on myself.
Moms, we have a tendency to beat ourselves up all day. About how (not) clean the house is, about the quality of dinner, about the politeness of our kids, about our body and wardrobe, about the amount of time we volunteer (or not) at the school, about the birthday parties we throw (or don’t throw), about the reading level of our kids, or the amount of time we spend crafting with our kids.
Okay, so this is just the beginning of my own personal list of “shortcomings”... But really, YOU are the BEST MOM for these kids, and if you WERE perfect at this whole list, every woman in the neighborhood would hate your guts and insist on seeing you fail somewhere in life.
The reality is, it’s our quirks, shortcomings, and silly ideas that make you YOU.
So…..embrace those imperfections and OWN that messy bathroom like it was all part of your motherhood “plan”. Because, despite it all, your kids love you for BEING YOU. Take those expectations or “mom guilt” and replace it with good old fashioned GRATITUDE (that’s the big secret to happiness)."
Today, Katie continues to design innovative products with Puj, but she’s also written a book and spends her time coaching pregnant women. She loves making women feel beautiful and in control during their pregnancy. She also is committed to donating products to local Share Houses, for moms that don’t have the resources and need just as much help as any other mom.
How beautiful was Katie’s speech to new mamas? I am going to keep a copy of it handy to read to myself whenever I’m feeling down about all of the things that need to get done every day.
How did you feel after reading it? Let me know in the comments.