You can’t help but admire Lucy for everything she has achieved in setting up Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery but also for her humanitarian work as founder of Harmony House, a charity that provides children in Delhi with education, healthcare, clothing and hope. Mama of 3 super cute kiddos Amelia aged 6, Jude aged 5 and India Rose aged 22 months, Lucy manages to divide her time between work and family seemingly perfectly and with so much style and modesty that we are quite literally in awe mamas!
Name: Lucy Bruce
Occupation: Founder/Director of Education at Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery. Founder of Harmony House.
Children: Amelia 6, Jude 5, India Rose 22 months
How long have you lived in Dubai? 15 years
1) Tell us about your businesses and why you started them.
My husband and I travelled frequently to India as his family still resides in Delhi. I was shocked to see such severe poverty, with children living on the streets, barely clothed and malnourished beyond imagination. We started donating money to charities, but soon realised that our money was not being used effectively, so we took matters in our own hands and established Harmony House. Today, we have two centres with over 450 children and provide them free education, clothing, medical care and a place to feel safe, away from the streets of India.
My business partner, Beverly Jatwani, and I started Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery three and a half years ago. We both recognised a need for a nursery that taught children about our planet, its living things and giving back. Today, Home Grown Children’s Eco Nurseries are the UAE’s first green thinking and socially responsible children’s nurseries that promotes a holistic learning environment for children aged twelve months to four years. We integrate the warmth of nurturing and the harmony of nature, balanced with traditional teaching methods to achieve the very best for our children. We believe that children can make a positive impact on Planet Earth through their daily actions and attitude. We aim to instil values that will continue to be with them throughout their lives. Using the British Early Years Foundation Stages as our framework, we have developed a unique holistic approach called ‘The Green Engagement’, which focuses on generating a respect and awareness for themselves, others and our planet.
The nursery aims to develop a strong social conscience in all its children by pairing children at the nursery with those at Harmony House. The children share photographs, experiences and ideas as they grow older, building strong bonds and a portion of the school fees go towards paying for the paired child’s placement in Harmony House.
2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
I think any mother will tell you that their biggest achievement are her children, and I certainly stand by this. It sounds so cliché, but the amount of love and pride you feel for your children is indescribable.
I am extremely proud of what Beverley (my business partner at Home Grown), our team and I have achieved in three years. Opening the second nursery this September was a very significant moment for us. We actually took some time to reflect on all of our experiences and everything we learned, it was quite emotional.
My heart also swells with pride for every child at Harmony House. Despite their challenges and disadvantages, they strive to make the most most of every given opportunity, their positive attitude, electric energy and hopes for the future are my daily inspirations.
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you grew up?
I never knew what I wanted to do as a child when I grew up. I knew that my passion was working with children, which is why I decided to do a degree in Education. I knew that I would not always be a teacher and I always had an entrepreneual streak in me. I also used to get involved with all of the local charitable events. I am lucky that I am able to be involved in all of the areas that I am passionate about on a daily bases and put my strengths to good use.
4) If you had three wishes, what would they be?
Prolonged health and happiness for my family and friends.
A world where my children can experience global peace and equal opportunities for all.
That every child is given the basic human rights that they all deserve.
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
Sassy Mama has built themselves a reputation that is trusted and relied on by mums around the world. It is written by mums, for mums and for me, that is the best part about it.
6) What’s a typical day in your life like?
Like all Mums, it’s an early start and a rush to get everyone out of the house and into the car. I drop Amelia and Jude at King’s School at 7.30am and from there I carry onto the Al Safa nursery where my youngest, India Rose, is studying in the ‘Treetops’ class there. Once India is in class, I put my apron on and I’m in work mode.At the moment, I am mainly based at our Al Safa branch where I help run the nursery.
India Rose gets picked up at 12.30pm and I stay at work until 2pm. At 2.30 I pick Amelia and Jude up from school and we are back into rush mode as we prepare for after school activities and homework. By 6pm, when everyone has been fed and watered, it is bath time. Before bed we have ‘choosing time’, where I encourage my children to read, draw, write and be creative. Lights out for the children is at 7.30pm. In the evenings, I have some time to check my emails and relax.
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
Grab every opportunity that comes your way, don’t wait for tomorrow.
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Our favourite family time is when we are at home, relaxed and without an agenda. This is when we have the most fun, making each other laugh, being silly and just enjoying simple moments.
10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
Not everybody knows that we have opened a new branch of Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery in Al Safa 2. Our nursery has always been somewhat of a secret, as we have built our awareness by word of mouth alone.
11) Which three words best describe your personality?
Loyal, patient, gentle.
12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
Go with the flow. Try not to get too caught up with what the ‘books’ say and listen to your gut instinct. Enjoy the first precious moments as the days fly by and before you know it, you’re dropping your child off at school. Focus on the good times and brush off the bad. Make some time for yourself if you can, as being a mother does not mean that you do not have the right to be yourself. Lead by example, as your actions will impact your children. Laugh before you cry and love with all of your heart.
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?
Juggling family with a career is never easy and more often than not, our guilt can prevent us from following our dreams. I am in a lucky position, where I work while my children are at school, but there are days where I have to work on a Saturday or late evenings. Remember that parenting is not your job alone, and if your husband is on board and willing to help his support will only spur you on. I have to remind myself to accept help when I need it and not to be distracted by things that do not concern me.
When I am with my children, I try desperately to keep my phone out of sight. I don’t always achieve this, but I am always conscious of being in the moment with them and enjoying our precious time together. Since having children, I have been able to manage more. I think they teach you this!
14) If you were on an island and could bring only 3 things (family not included) what would they be?
1. My pillows (everywhere I travel I take my own pillows. If I don’t, I can’t sleep)
2. My tea bags (assuming there is a kettle)
3. My dental kit (I cannot function until I have brushed my teeth in the morning!)
15) Top three books?
1. Purification of the Heart – Hamza Yusuf
2. Start Something that Matters – Blake Mycoskie
3. I am Malala by Malala Yousafai
16) Describe your style.
Simple, understated and, it sounds so mumsie, but comfortable. I need to get ready quickly in the mornings, so there are no accessories or fancy colour combinations. However, if I go out at the weekend, I love to dress up as I have more time to prepare myself. I love elegant and classic lines and timeless pieces.
17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
Well, I have always fancied a career in Hollywood, so perhaps I would play myself!
18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done.
My son Jude has us in stitches; he is just a funny little guy. While we were at the pool recently, he asked his admittedly hairy Uncle, “Why do you have a moustache on your tummy?”