The Sassiest Mama Awards 2015
Every morning this mama cranks up the radio and dances with her kids. She works on one of the region’s most influential women’s mags, thinks Margaret Thatcher set the bar for power dressing and really wishes she could fly (don’t we all!). She’s ‘fair, fun and fiery’ and super stylish to boot – and her kids have the cutest names ever!
Who’s The Mama?
Full Name: Lyndsey Steven
Occupation: Associate Editor for the Emirates Woman Group
Children: Cillian York, almost 4 and Teagan York, 19 months
Nationality: South African
How long have you lived in Dubai? 10 years (I celebrated my 10th anniversary with two girlfriends, who I met in my first week in February this year!)
1) Tell us about your business.
I’m the Associate Editor of the Emirates Woman Group at Motivate Publishing. We publish Emirates Woman, the biggest (and oldest) female fashion and lifestyle magazine in the region as well as Emirates Woman Bride, Emirates Woman Mini and the Harvey Nichols-Dubai magazines.
I have worked in media for 18 years and moved to Dubai to launch the Time Out Middle East guides. I’ve always been passionate about writing – one of my favourite gigs has been as a contributor to the Mr and Mrs Smith coffee table books and website.
2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
Turning up to work fully dressed and with teeth and hair brushed every morning?
It would have to be juggling screaming babies, nappies, teething and nagging with deadlines, meetings, award ceremonies and press events while still trying to keep some sort of life/family/work/fun balance. My children are without a doubt my greatest achievement and their funny, sunny, outgoing personalities and sharp minds are a wonderful affirmation that we must be doing something right. Or maybe we just got lucky.
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you ‘grew up’?!
A politician. I think I’m fairly diplomatic and when I was younger, I was always outraged by how unfair life was… Despite being a love her or hate her character (my husband falls into the latter category), I was inspired by Margaret Thatcher. Say what you like about her but, aside from being Britain’s first female Prime Minister, no other PM over the last few decades has had such a pervasive influence on society – from the economy, to education and women’s fashion. Who do you think set the bar for power dressing?
4) If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
- For my kids never to get sick. Ever.
- For one (or both) of my children to become a pilot so that my husband and I can enjoy First Class travel in our retirement.
- To be able to fly. I sometimes have flying dreams – they’re awesome.
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
Hopefully, it means I’m not only very smart, absolutely stunning and a little bit saucy, but that I’m also the best mother in the world – a mix of Marilyn vos Savant, Gisele Bündchen, Tina Fey and Marge Simpson. (If only.) I actually haven’t a clue what I’m doing here – did one of my friends pay someone? – but I’m delighted to have been considered, thank you!
6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
Take Tramp, our dog, on an early morning run or PT session – preferably while the children are still sleeping, drop the kids at nursery, rush to work (doing make-up in the car while my husband drives), barely leave my desk for 9 hours unless I have a PR /sales meeting, rush home to my kids to take them for a walk / to the park and then baths, books and lots of cuddles before bedtime.
Somewhere in between I cook dinner – I love cooking innovative healthy dishes, but the meal depends on how much time I have and what’s in the fridge. Once or twice a week I’ll go to a press event in the evening which I enjoy but always feel guilty about as it means even less time with my babies. But I work a four-day week which means Thursdays are all about ‘Einstein’ classes with my daughter and swimming lessons with my son (plus a yoga session in the morning for me). It’s all about balance.
7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Dark chocolate, champagne, bad dancing, reading, Masterchef Australia and any water sports – although the latter is not really guilty as I try to involve my kids as much as possible. We recently holidayed at my brother’s summer house on Kootenay Lake in Canada where days were filled with stand up paddling, wake boarding and kitesurfing – the cold water took some getting used to but the kids loved the active, outdoors lifestyle.
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
My mum, God bless her soul, told me when I was going through, shall we say, not my most attractive phase (around the age of 9), that I was never going to be a beauty so I should focus on developing my personality… harsh, yes, but at least I now have both!
Also, always remember that it’s way more fun – and a lot more flattering – to laugh than to cry.
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Beach and braais! (BBQ’s). We also live on the most fantastic compound where kids run wild and there is always something going on. Last Halloween was an eye-opener, some of the houses were transformed into mini film sets and we have the best pre-Christmas bashes, complete with an incompetent Santa. At Easter, it’s a treasure hunt and a brunch, which we all make dishes for (thanks Magda!). We also love weekend trips away to Fujeirah, RAK and Oman and Sri Lanka for Eid breaks – my mum instilled the travel bug in me at a young age and it’s something I’m passing on to my kids. It’s so important to be adaptable, not to mention open-minded and culturally informed.
10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
For fun kids clothing with an Arabic twist (think T-shirts with prints of babies dressed up as Lawrence of Arabia) I love French independent designer brand, Cute Edition, which was born and bred in Dubai.
11) Which three words best describe your personality?
Fair. Fun /Funny. Fiery. (My husband added the last one).
12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
- Put dad on nappy duty.
- Sleep whenever you possibly can. I’m a firm believer in afternoon power naps – especially when I manage to get both children down at the same time. I’m determined that both of them keep their siestas going until they’re 18…
13) What advice would you give to a mama who wants to go back to work or start her own business but is worried about juggling family and career?
It’s easier said than done, but it’s all about finding the right balance. When my son was born I was freelancing which meant plenty of time with him during the day, but lots of evening and weekend work. Then, when my daughter came along I started to find working from home difficult with two of them vying for my attention so I went back to the office – but doing a four-day week. There are often tears (mainly mine) when I leave in the morning, but I know that I at least have three full days with them… so whatever works for you and your family. And don’t ever allow yourself to feel judged or guilty. As they say, guilt is a useless emotion; it’s the gift that keeps on giving…
14) If you were on an island and could bring only 3 things (family not included) what would they be?
- A hefty, meaty book like War and Peace, or maybe something a little less worthy like the complete works of Bill Bryson which manages to spin enlightening facts in a snort-out loud way.
- A surfboard or stand up paddle board so I can keep fit and, depending on how long I’m on the island for, become so good I turn pro…
- The biggest jar of almond butter that I can get my hands on.
15) Top 3 books?
This is even harder than the island question as I inhale books – I don’t understand people who say they don’t have time to read, there’s always 10 minutes before you go to sleep plus holiday reading. I read the incredibly shocking and moving, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver on our most recent holiday. John Irwin’s Cutting for Stone is beautifully written and also hit a nerve with me, but there are some disturbingly gory scenes in it, so it probably wasn’t the best choice just before giving birth to my daughter. An Idiot Abroad, which hilariously documents the travel diaries of Charles Pilkington when Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant force to go on a global journey, appeals to both my sense of humour and the jet setter in me.
16) Describe your style.
Comfy and sporty, but glam. I love beautiful things and, as I work at a woman’s fashion and lifestyle magazine, need to look the part. Plus my aunt and sister-in-law have bequeathed me with the ‘most glamorous member of the family’ title, so my wardrobe is pretty expansive. I always pick up interesting clothing or accessories when I’m travelling.
17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
As a Safa, it would have to be Charlize Theron (although she’d probably have to look closer to her character in Monster than the one in The Italian Job!
18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
Teagan barks at our dog and loves eating lemons. Cillian is always the first to point out when something is ‘not real’ like when we’re watching a magic show.
The other day after I put a rather expensive pink clay hair mask on my hair, Cillian told me I smelled like bad play dough. He was spot on. As a writer I wish I’d come up with that.
Ever morning my kids and I turn up the volume of the radio and have a little boogie in the kitchen which always ends in laughter.
Thanks to The Studio for the gorgeous pics! Book your photography experience on (+971) (0)4 347 1745.
Special thanks also to Sassy Mama Dani for coordinating mamas and photographers while juggling 3 little ones too!