By Raina Seitel
In the world of “mompreneurs,” Lyss Stern, founder of Divamoms.com, is a force to be reckoned with. Thirteen years ago, after the birth of her first child and before mommy blogging became en vogue, fueled by her own self-doubt about being a new mom, Stern created a mom movement—uniting, empowering, and helping other mothers get their post-baby groove back.
Today, she continues to reign supreme, with an arsenal of a million moms across the country who hang on her every word, attend her sophisticated soirees with powerhouse brands, and do exactly as Stern says. You see, Stern, now a mother-of-three, commands the mothership at the epicenter of the multi-million dollar business devoted to all things mom. Her longevity in this now congested and competitive space is, in part, due to Stern’s commitment to talk the talk and willingness to air her own dirty laundry—or in this case, sexy Hanky Panky’s—for all to see. In her second book (her first is If You Give a Mom a Martini), Motherhood is a B#tch!: 10 Steps to Regaining Your Sanity, Sexiness, and Inner Diva, this savvy NYC mom and businesswoman takes us on her own personal journey to regaining confidence after kids, and explains how you can, too. I sat down with Stern, a dear friend of mine and the ultimate diva mom herself, for a chat about her new book, which just hit shelves in April.
Congratulations on the new book! What inspired you to write this?
I was at a breaking point after my third child. My first two children were already older when I got pregnant with my third, and my life felt like it was in a tailspin. I somehow lost myself: I was struggling to balance my family, career, health, and dealing with the loss of my father. My body started giving me signs that I needed to either slow down or make serious changes. I decided to go on a retreat up to the Berkshires by myself for a few days, and I had an epiphany up on the mountain. So much of everything was eating up inside of me, so in that moment I said, “I have to get my shit together,” and I just started crying. From there, I began this journey to follow through and make those necessary changes, and I wanted to help other mothers out there do the same. When moms read this book, they’re going to yell “Hell yeah,” because there is finally a book that doesn’t sugarcoat motherhood.
How is the book different from other motherhood books on the market?
This book is different because it actually gives you tips on how to reclaim your life back. I’m not telling you how to be the best mom in this book, or the best wife, or how to be the best of anything. To me, motherhood is messy, it’s real, and every day it’s something new. This book gives you 10 small, manageable steps to recharge and regain your life.
What are the steps?
Some of the steps start at the very beginning of the day. For example, every morning I actually set my alarm clock a few minutes earlier than the kids wake up, and I take time for myself to sit and breathe deeply. I also make sure I eat breakfast every day—the one meal I would constantly skip in the past. I started making a conscious effort to take care of myself by eating three meals a day, exercising regularly, and even dedicating time to my marriage. It’s about organizing your priorities and learning time management.
In the book’s introduction you say: “Be bold. Go forth and be a bitch.” What do you mean by that?
“Bitch” has two meanings here. First, it is an acronym we spell it out for you: “B” for the person you want to be, “I” for initiate, “T” for time out, “C” for care, and “H” is asking for help. When I say the word “bitch,” I’m saying put your foot down and don’t allow anybody to walk all over you. Be bold and learn to say “no.” You don’t have to be everywhere or say yes to everybody. Even in my own business, I found so many people would try to take advantage of me. But you know what? I’ve learned now to say no and stand up for myself. In reality, you can’t be everything to everyone. That’s what the focus of this book is really about: Giving people the tools to help them get themselves back, to navigate, and to distance themselves from people that take advantage.
The motherhood space has recently come under fire with critics suggesting that for-profit mom bloggers pretend to mother by posting staged pictures of their families to make a buck, instead of actually parenting. How would you respond to that?
I’ve always been true to who I am, my brand, and my mission. I never pretend to be something that I’m not. I don’t post pictures of myself all day looking beautiful or in front of the camera because that’s not who I am. Behind the scenes, most of the day, my hair’s up in a bun, and I’m in front of a computer. I think at the end of the day people want to see things that are real. Either you love me or you hate me, but I’m real, and I’m working really hard. I built a real business where companies hire us to throw events and launch their products. Companies come to us because they know my database has over a million moms in New York City and across the country, who trust us to only bring the best… As far as social media, I think everybody just needs to take a step back, and realize how valuable their time is with their children. To me, I want my children to be happy and healthy. Motherhood is not a competition or a rat race.
Over-posting with kids in my opinion screams: “Look at me! I’m a great mom!” The proof is in the pudding, in the kind and compassionate little people we are raising.
One thousand percent! It’s never been all about me. It’s funny because that’s why I started this thing called the “Diva Mom Mogul” breakfast every year, where moms come to me ask me how I started my own business. I can give them information, sure, but I like to share other moms’ stories and let moms learn from each other because we’re in this together. When I started my company nobody was there to help me. Everybody laughed at me, and I didn’t know what I was doing. With that being said, here I am today. I want to help other moms be successful and to thrive.
To learn more about Lyss Stern, visit Divamoms.com!
Raina Seitel is an Emmy-winning television journalist and mother. You can find Raina reporting daily on NBC’s “New York LIVE!” and other NBC platforms, and on the screens in the back of your taxis. For more, follow her on Instagram and Twitter @rainaseitel and to learn more, visit rainaseitel.com!