Meet The Amazing Mama Behind The Entertainer
Mama of two gorgeous kiddos, Founder/Chairman of The Entertainer (yes, that fabulous book and app that gives us all those amazing deals in Dubai and beyond) – and more recently Chloe’s Salon (a gorgeous hair and beauty space) and Jack’s Plaice (dedicated to providing proper British Fish & Chips), Donna Benton is one very inspiring lady. We caught up with her to chat everything from work to family life and holidays – and to find out how exactly she balances it all! A huge thank you to Steph from Nektar for the beautiful photos.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I’m Donna Benton, Founder and Chairman of the Entertainer. We provide Buy One Get One Free offers for dining, attractions, leisure, spas, beauty & fitness, hotels and much more in one great App. I started the company in 2001 and now we’re a global team of over 200 people with 14 offices across the world. On the home front, I’m a very happy ‘mama’ to 6-year-old Chloe and Jack, who’s 3.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
When I started my company, I had to do a lot of all-nighters and worked really hard, day in day out. I didn’t have any other commitments so I poured my heart and soul into my work. While I still have that passion today, after having children I divide my time between work and home. I make sure to schedule my appointments around their school functions, holidays and illnesses. It’s not always easy but we make sure that we get in some quality family time every day. When you’re a ‘mamapreneur’, you don’t always have the luxury of switching off completely during your maternity break – so getting back to work was relatively smooth as I knew what was going on in the company anyway.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
The first and most important thing I keep telling myself is that balance doesn’t mean sticking to the same schedule everyday – it’s all about flexibility. Some days I take the afternoons off when the kids have after-school activities – but I may work late into the evenings those days. One rule I have is to take family holidays where I try to completely switch off from work. It’s very personal, how you manage to give your best to your work and your family, but it’s very rewarding when you achieve that balance.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
I plan my week well in advance– my meetings, appointments, interviews, school functions, social events and so on but allow for flexibility to accommodate emergencies. In the morning, I take a look at what I have lined up for the day and go over any notes or other material I have. This means I don’t waste any time catching up and I am well prepared to face the day! For me, it certainly pays to be organised.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Dubai?
My number one tip is to eat right and stay fit. Being a working mother or entrepreneur is both physically and mentally demanding, so take time to look after yourself – plus remember we all need a break from time to time. You need the energy to do what you love and follow your dreams.
If you feel like giving up, remember that what you’re doing will open a lot of opportunities for your children that they may not have otherwise. You are always stronger than you think, so keep going!
Favourite activity with your kids in Dubai?
Definitely Kite Beach with the kids on their bikes and scooters – we love it down there.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
The Noodle House is hands down my kids’ favourite restaurant!
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot?
We have a house in Phuket that we all adore, so for us Thailand is THE family holiday destination.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Date night! It’s not as superficial as it sounds. Going out for a nice dinner together is a way to just talk and rediscover the person you’re with. In a world where we’re always connected to our social circle and work, going out is a way to disconnect from the rest of the world and make a deeper connection with that one special person. Keeping the romance alive takes work and planning some time with just the two of you is a great way to start.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
El Sur and Pai Thai are two. We love trying out new restaurants, though, and we’ve discovered some lovely ones along the way.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
There is no ‘perfect mother’. We are all unique and so are our children and their needs. The other piece of parenting wisdom I live by – it’s okay to ask for help sometimes. Trying to do everything sometimes works against us.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
It’s important to remember that kids don’t have to be busy all the time. It’s okay for them to be bored once in a while because they learn to appreciate the times you take them out. Also, it helps them come up with creative ways to keep themselves entertained.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Having more patience, definitely!
My most humbling mama moment was…
When my daughter didn’t know what McDonalds was!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Time with my kids – they always come first.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Nothing – I’m a really good sleeper! On a more serious note though, I believe that once you go to bed you can’t change anything until the next day – so why spend the night worrying?
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
Be there for all of them, no matter what.
My favourite moment of the day is…
All day – time is precious!
I always feel saner after…
My morning run. It clears my head and prepares me for the day. Nothing can wake me up better.
I wish I had more time for…
Just me, because I’ve realised that if you’re happy, then everyone’s happy.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
The kids willingly go to bed!
Thanks to Steph from Nektar for these gorgeous pictures of Donna and her family!