Zoe Ellender, the camp director of Sugar Bay Resort and mom to three children, shares her story about how she is able to run her own business and be a mom.
Ellender gave up her formal career in Law and Legal Services to pursue her dream of creating a safe and fun paradise for children. Inspired by the concept of American summer camps, Ellender founded Sugar Bay which is a children’s holiday camp in KwaZulu Natal that kids from all over South Africa and the world can enjoy.
Sixteen years later, she smiles and delegates as the proud owner of one of the best children’s camps in South Africa and as a proud mom of three.
Ellender shares some of her challenges and how she overcame them:
Three years after the inception of Sugar Bay, Ellender was blessed with her first child, a beautiful daughter named Tao. During this period, Ellender was still fully involved in the day-to-day running of her business and juggling being a new mother to her firstborn.
“It certainly wasn’t easy being a mother and running a business that just recently kicked-off. At this early stage of the establishment of my company, there was pressure to ensure that salaries were paid and that functions were being executed correctly. I recall when Tao was around three years old and I was a Lifeguard Instructor at camp, being so engrossed in work and passionate about what I do, I had completely forgotten to fetch her from nursery school,” Ellender shared.
In 2008, Ellender gave birth to her son Cuan. During this period, she was fortunate enough to be able to take six-months of uninterrupted maternity leave.
In 2015, the Ellender’s third child, a baby boy named Asher was welcomed into their family. Ellender had taken a year and a half to be with him and has now finally returned to work full time.
“This was the longest time I have taken off from work for maternity leave. Coming back was a big adjustment. I felt like I was out of a job for a while,” she said chuckling.
Little Asher is now being cared for by an au pair while his mom is back to being the boss on a full-time basis. Having an au pair makes things so much easier for a woman to be a mom and run a business simultaneously.
“My advice to moms who are struggling to juggle their careers and motherhood would be to learn how to trust people with your children so that we can learn to let go and focus on ourselves as well as other things that matter to us. When you look after other people’s children, you will understand the importance of trust. You will need to take risks so that you can eventually have no problem trusting other people with your children. You’ve got to hire great staff, people who are fantastic with children and will be great role models for them. Luckily for me, I have witnessed this first-hand having run a business that cares for children. I have been inspired by my own staff to trust others with my kids, hence, I have gained the courage and confidence to hire an au pair and leave baby Asher in his full care throughout the day.”
“Fortunately for me, home and work is a stone’s throw away, and I have the privilege of working flexible hours. I love work and also love being at home with the kids. And now, being able to trust someone with my kids while I am at work creates a lovely balance in my life. I am able to focus on one thing at a time instead of worrying about all the others at once.
There are also certain games that my kids love playing and would like to play over and over again. I, however, cannot go on more than once. My au pair, on the other hand, has the patience to pursue this as many times as possible, and if this pleases my kids, it pleases me,” she said honestly.
Ellender’s experience of juggling her career as a businesswoman and being a mother to three children over the past sixteen years teaches parents to challenge their own fears and to consider allowing their children to be in the care of others if necessary.