Snarky Mommy blogger Amy Sprenger discusses how she survives summer vacation.

The good news is my three kids just started summer vacation this week. The bad news is my three kids just started summer vacation this week.

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On one hand, I selfishly love summer vacation because it means I don’t have to get up by 7 a.m. and make three breakfasts and pack three lunches and scream at everyone to find his or her shoes and coat and backpack and get them out the door by 8:05 a.m. On the other hand, I still have to get up earlier than I would like and make three breakfasts and three lunches and scream at everyone to stop touching each other, for the love of God, STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER.

In my mind, I always envision summer break as a lazy time, kids sprawled out reading in hammocks or blowing bubbles on the lawn or watching sunsets with their arms around each other, fireflies dancing above their heads. I’m not sure why I picture these things, because our lawn is actually a patio, my kids would never willingly sit with their arms around each other and we don’t own a hammock.

In reality, the days are filled with fighting and whining. Sometimes, they whine about fighting. Occasionally they fight about whining. We’re seven days in and I’m already in need of a cocktail by 10 a.m. each day. Thank goodness the soccer World Cup is underway because I can count on my 8-year-old son to at least be mesmerized by the television for six hours and not trying to beat the stuffing out of his 6-year-old sister. My 4-year-old daughter is a favorite to win the “annoy your sister” World Cup, however. She’s definitely moving on to the championship round.

Yesterday, I refereed a fight over a piece of strawberry pie between the two girls. I doled out two identical slices of pie on to plates. The 4-year-old, Maeve, declared one piece bigger than the other and announced it was hers. The 6-year-old, Emmie, immediately claimed it as her own. A scuffle ensued, both girls pulling the plate back and forth like a cartoon. Of course, the pie fell on the floor and both girls burst into tears, blaming the other. I declared the five-second-rule, picked the pie up off the freshly washed floor, and put it back on the plate and served it.

Maeve sat down with the pie at the table and immediately started crying anew. “I don’t like this!” she sobbed. Of course she doesn’t. Emmie then offered to eat Maeve’s portion, which caused Maeve to spite-eat the piece of pie she didn’t want, all the while tears running down her face.

Calgon, take me away. More like Corona, take me away.

But I have Mommy’s little secret weapon up my sleeve: summer camp. In order to keep them from killing each other — and me from killing myself — I have scheduled the three of them within an inch of their lives for the remaining seven weeks of break. They’ll be soccering, artisting, dancing, baseballing and playgrounding with reckless abandon. Sure, I still need to get up early to drive them to all these activities, but they don’t have to be there until 9 in the morning and nobody needs a lunch!

This gives mommy a little breathing room and the ability to grocery shop without three snipping kids in tow. Also, the ability to get a mani/pedi. But don’t tell my husband that, he thinks the kids need to be in camps so I have time to write my next book. Which I will be doing, just as soon as the kids go back to school in the fall.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.57.18 AMWhat kind of mother doesn’t say no to her kids? One who is clearly angling for the Mother the Year trophy – or an extended stay in a mental institution. After deciding to eliminate the words no, don’t and stop from her parenting vocabulary for one month, Amy Sprenger documents what life is like with her three young children. Spoiler alert: she’s still alive, so her experiment didn’t actually kill her. It just felt like it might most days. You’ll cringe when the kids turn feral in Whole Foods, sympathize when Amy hides from them behind the locked bathroom door and question her sanity when she consents to a day as Yes Wife. But throughout, you’ll laugh at Amy’s month of mothering missteps and misadventures. This is what happens when you stop saying no and start saying yes – to everything.


Amy Sprenger is the author of the award-winning blog SnarkyMommy.com, where she tells it like it is and isn’t afraid to make fun of herself or her questionable parenting prowess. She has three young kids and a penchant for getting herself into ridiculous situations. A former news and sports reporter, Amy lives with her husband and children in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood where she silently judges all the other parents.

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