Chef Carla Contreras (She/Her) is a multi-passionate digital entrepreneur and the founder of The Poppy…
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Before giving birth to my daughter, I expected to feel torn between the business I’d spent 5 years building and this new, little human being I now had the honor of mothering.
But in the first few months being totally immersed in the slow, tender, very potent world of me and baby, I barely thought about work. And I had this giant question hovering over me…
How on earth will I be able to juggle this devotion I have to my child and the passion I have for my work?
It felt like such a mystery because, well, there is no guidebook for working mothers, let alone entrepreneurs. And so, I pieced together advice from other women I admire, figured out childcare (until COVID hit), and was slowly finding my sea legs with both identities.
Once I reached the two-year mark with this little nugget and had some solid childcare in place, I was asked by a colleague, “How do you do all of the things? How do you run two businesses, raise your daughter, and find time for you and your partner to connect? How do you stay connected to yourself?”
To be completely honest, I didn’t have an answer. I had never done an analysis on how I’d kept the momentum going in my business, while still having the ability to hop in and be present with my daughter as needed. It was like I’d been living in a haze of doing with zero awareness.
So, I looked back on those 24 months, and dug into everything that has empowered me to do what I love in every sense of the word. And found that it comes down to 6 key ingredients for me. Mind you, this is what has worked for me and my family.
I hope it helps you too if you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around “how to do it all.”
1. My husband and childcare.
First and foremost, there is no way I’d be able to run my business and co-create the pstprtm platform without support from my husband and the various forms of childcare we’ve had over the years. The ability to hand off baby duty to people I trust is the biggest gift and has been so vital to finding my footing with everything.
My husband in particular is incredibly supportive of anything I want to do. And he is an incredibly involved dad. From the beginning, we’ve probably shared caring for Violet about 50/50, and once COVID hit that was even more so the case. Thankfully, his company has been very flexible, understanding, and supportive of our needs over here.
2. Time blocking
Since I have my business to run, a podcast to create, another business I’m building, and clients to support – it’s crucial that I’m organized and strategic with what I work on and when.
Tactically, the first thing I do to get organized every week is to write out my to-do list on Sundays. I have a Decomposition Notebook and highlighters, and I get all kinds of color-coded there. Then, I look at my calendar and the space I have in between calls and meetings. I prioritize my list of to-dos and block off time in my calendar on specific days to do those things.
3. Letting it be messy
There are so many moments where I feel like I’m not doing enough, or where I feel like my attention is being pulled in a million directions. It can get really stressful. But I always remind myself to be where I am, to refocus and do the next item on my list, and know that I’m always doing the best I can in that moment. I’ve had to prioritize stepping away from my computer midday vs. powering through because I need to take walks outdoors, eat a proper lunch, and find little moments with Violet to help me regain perspective and move through the rest of the day in a better headspace.
When you’re responsible for a lot of things – in life, in work, in your relationships, it’s so important to be transparent. My husband and I are always open with each other about our stressors and ways we can deal with challenges we’re experiencing as parents and as a couple.
The same goes for my co-founders. Building another business with two other people can be complicated, which is why we are quick to address any tension points, create space for everyone to be expressed, and then move forward with a solution. We all have a lot going on – kids, husbands, other work, and the time and energy we’re giving to pstprtm. So, overcommunication helps us support each other and empowers us to move forward productively.
At the end of the day, shutting down the technology, eating dinner and having a glass of wine with my husband, playing scrabble, watching Ted Lasso, talking about our future and our plans – it’s fun. And we’ve had to get incredibly creative with how to have fun when we’re tethered to our house every night with a sleeping toddler and dealing with a pandemic. I’m really proud of how hard we’ve worked to stay connected and prioritize our relationship with the little alone time we get. But we’re stronger and better because of all of it.
6. ME TIME
Carving out space to meditate, journal, take a walk while listening to a podcast, catch up with friends, plan out the décor for different rooms in our house, spend an hour on Pinterest, read a book, just do nothing—it’s so key to feeling like I’m not always “on” or always doing something.
Leisure time has always been a priority to me. I’m not the type of person who hustles 24/7. I love to relax, and even during the busiest seasons of business, I make it happen. I’m grateful for these opposing qualities because they’ve 100% helped me get where I am today without completely sacrificing my wellbeing.
So, there you have it. Six things that empower me to chase my dreams, be a good mom, nurture my marriage, and stay healthy in this season of life. I know that as my daughter grows and changes, and our lives grow and change, this will change too. But for now, I’m grateful to have a framework that feels healthy and supportive. Here’s to finding yours.