Home Health Burned-out NYC moms prepare for weekend away from kids, COVID-19

Burned-out NYC moms prepare for weekend away from kids, COVID-19


“I’m not an octopus,” mom of three Lyss Stern yelled as one kid cried out over a school Zoom-lesson malfunction. “I have to remind my kids all the time I only have two arms!

“This is exactly why I’m planning a weekend getaway just for moms,” she added, tuning out the chaos. “We need a break.”

Stern, the 47-year-old founder of NYC social-networking site Divalysscious Moms — which she calls “ ’Sex and the City’ meets mommy-and-me” — is hosting the first-ever “DivaMoms Getaway Weekend” to provide local mothers a chance to unwind and unplug. On Friday, 25 women will head to Tyler Hill Camp for the retreat. The camp is set on 220 acres in Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania, in the Poconos.

“Trying to manage hectic virtual schooling, daily chores, stay-at-home directives, etc., was getting to be too much,” said Stern, who is also still dealing with lingering COVID-19 symptoms since contracting the virus in March — including lost senses of taste and smell, ringing in her ears, extreme fatigue and foggy memory. But when she and her 6-year-old daughter visited Tyler Hill Camp over the summer after she’d recovered, “I felt relaxed for the first time,” she said. “I want to give that feeling to other moms.”

Ashley Cohen, who works as a nursery school teacher and is mom to a 3-month-old and a 22-month-old, signed up for the $750 retreat to chase the calm. “Parenting is literally a 24-hour-a-day job and, lately, it feels like 48 hours packed into one day,” said the 38-year-old from Queens.

As fellow camper Danielle Altman, a mom of three from Roslyn, LI, put it: “Eating a salad in my car is a luxury these days.”

COVID-19-related worries have parents stressed more than ever. In fact, new studies from the American Psychological Association show that the pandemic is creating a mental-health crisis for caregivers with kids. And for those living in the New York City area, that strain is amplified by the ever-changing messaging about school and office openings, a surge in violent crimes and the looming worry that the city will become a coronavirus hot spot yet again.

“I thought I was a chaos expert. But this is a whole new level of crazy,” said Danette Jagla, a Brooklyn pastry chef and mom to a 17-year-old son, noting the challenges of running her own business while her husband works an irregular schedule. “Although my son is older, as a black woman with a black child who looks like a man, I’m terrified. This pandemic has hit me in ways I don’t think it hit others.” She signed up for the getaway because “I’ve been looking for ways to find quiet.”

This weekend, the moms will have access to activities such as meditation, yoga, hikes, fitness seminars, nightly campfires with booze and s’mores and a wine-fueled tie-dye class, curated by mom and camp owner Wendy Siegel, 51. Chef-prepared meals — which will be healthy but with a summer camp twist — are included. “There may be some late night pizza if the moms stay up to relive their college days,” Siegel, who has three daughters, said.

Safety protocols include temperature checks, deeply sanitized settings and proof of negative COVID-19 test results.

Accommodations include “bunk living” in a private cabin for four, or a room half a mile away at the Inn at Tyler Hill. The $750 price tag includes all activities, food and a swag bag with a mask, a compact mirror, a sweatshirt and canned wine.

“The great part is that there’s going to be a schedule, but nothing is required,” said Stern. “If a mom wants to sit by the lake all day and read a book, great. It’s whatever they need to decompress.”

Cohen, who opted for a private room in the main house, has even more basic needs: “I’m excited to sleep in my own room without a child in my bed or crying in the middle of the night.”

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