Folks we Love with Karen Barskie | founder, Woombie
I reached out to interview Karen because she is the inventor of one of my all time favorite infant baby products: the Woombie, which is basically a very cozy and strong swaddle with a zipper. In addition to having 5 kids between the ages of 10 to 23, Karen was a RN for 24 years, Certified Infant Care Specialist and Instructor, and of course the Inventor/Product Designer of Woombie.
interview by Kacy Byxbee, editor, Your Zen Mama
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you've come to arrive here.
Our third daughter Bella experienced a dangerous sleep situation at 3 months old, when she repeatedly kicked out of her square hospital swaddle blanket and brought the blanket up and over her face. This prompted me to find a better swaddle, however, after trying several i realized there were issues with all of them that made them either unsafe or difficult to use.
Did you use the Woombie with all of your kids?
We used the Woombie with our last 3 children
Who's in your family? Ages? Names?
Morgan, age 23
Kaia, age 17
Bella'Mar, age 11
Brycen, age 10
Brody, age 10
Raised in Connecticut, but relocated to Milton, GA in 2015, North of Atlanta
RN for 24 years, Certified Infant Care Specialist and Instructor, Inventor/Product Designer of Woombie
How and why did you start Woombie?
Years ago when my baby was faced with a dangerous sleep situation, I searched the market for something “different” than the typical square swaddle blanket— and found nothing. We tried every solution on the market and we kept finding our little baby girl with the swaddle unraveled and up over her face making her red and hot – scary to say the least. Our little preemie had a super startle reflex and mighty mouse strength so she needed to be swaddled – but she kept busting out of the swaddle and waking up EVERY 15 minutes. After 2 weeks of no sleep, exhausted and determined, I took out my grandmother’s sewing machine in the middle of one sleepless night and invented my own product, the Woombie! The Woombie has now made over a million parents and babies extremely happy by providing them with much needed sleep. 10 years later, the Woombie brand is stronger than ever and continues to offer new styles and designs each season as parents continue to vote Woombie as the number one trusted baby swaddle.
What is your favorite book?
Currently it is The Divine Matrix by Greg Braden
How do you unwind and what does self care look like for you?
I love Netflix bingeing with my husband and kids! We are currently bingeing Stranger Things and The Good Place. I am sure to meditate daily, even if it is only 5 minutes and do Yoga as much as i can!
What is something you wish you had known before having kids?
I wish I had known how fast time flies, and to embrace and enjoy the moments and stages more - even though they can be difficult. Embrace every moment that is about to happen
You have kids from ages 10-23—what is the best advice you have for moms with toddler, moms with middle schoolers, and moms with high schoolers?
Consistency is king... once your house rules are established, keep strong and consistent, kids need structure although they will not agree they do!
How has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids? How do you stay connected?
We make time every evening to hang out together. We are still best friends and love to hang out, take walks together, scheme and dream together- despite the exhaustion!
What do you wish you could've told yourself when you were a teenager?
To love myself more inside and outside, to embrace my strawberry blonde hair instead of dying it to "blend", to embrace my shape and not try to be skinny like other girls.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody's parent?
I find that it is challenging to allow them to be themselves, not over-guide them, embrace their opinions, voices and differences. Each child is totally different from their siblings, all unique little individuals and they all excel at different things.
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
I want them to realize that what they see around them is not a reflection of the world, just a small piece of it. I travel with them a lot, they have been so many places in the world already. We always show them contrast, and that love and a smile is a universal language.
How do you find balance?
That is hard for me, I tend to work a lot.... but my husband helps me with that to "shut me down" and remind me to take breaks for me!
What is the best advice you have every received?
From my father Juri, that nothing matters in the world more than being loved and giving love.
What are 4 things you can't live without as a parent?
- Google Home speakers for our impromptu dance parties,
- Kaia Papaya Air-Wrap towels for hair, beach, bath and pool
- Morning smoothies of kale, berries, chia, blue green algae
- Fun fact- can’t live without caring for my farm animals. I find it fun and therapeutic!
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