Hands Free Mama

Hands Free Mama

If you don’t know the Hands Free Mama yet, you’re missing out. Her name is Rachel Macy Stafford and her blog inspires millions of people each month. Most of those people are mothers, including myself, who Rachel offers the gift of affirmation, encouragement, camaraderie and, most importantly for me, the feeling that I’m normal when I feel overwhelmed as a mother. She courageously puts herself out there, using stories of her worst moments as a mom, so that the rest of us don’t have to feel isolated when we struggle with yelling, anger, distracted parenting or whatever your vice is. It’s been done before.

What isn’t done often is exactly what Rachel’s book Hands Free Mama is all about. She starts out specifically addressing how the digital age has negatively impacted our families with distraction – all of the devices with their chimes and reminders that keep our eyes and attention glued to screens. Unfortunately, this often means that we’re missing out on real moments – RICH moments – with the people we love the most. The “Hands Free” motto refers to letting go of our daily distractions and things that don’t really matter so that our hands are free and open to grasp meaningful moments, life, and deeper relationships.

I knew by the third page that this book was written for me. Maybe it was written for you, too. Does this sound familiar?

“As I was making lunch as usual for my younger daughter Avery, my laptop was open on the kitchen counter and my phone was an arm’s length away. The devices battled for my attention with their respective dings and beeps. I answered their demanding summons with instant obedience. Between incoming texts and email messages, I hurriedly applied peanut butter to a slice of bread. The sooner I could make my child’s lunch, the sooner I could address a few pressing matters on my to-do list…

…For some reason, I looked up. I knew my child was there, but this time I noticed her, really noticed her. My precious curly-haired daughter sat on the sofa sucking her thumb while gently rubbing her nose. Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. For the first time, I felt a new kind of urgency…Time was running out.

I sat down next to her and placed my arm around her shoulders…What happened next was something no one had ever done to me. She brought my hand to her pink lips and ever so gently kissed my palm. As my eyes filled with tears, I knew this was it…I wanted more tender moments like this. But first I had to admit that they wouldn’t be so rare if I would simply stop for a moment. The truth is: No matter how much she wants to, needs to, or would love to, my child cannot kiss a moving target. Living distracted had cost me countless precious moments, but thank goodness I didn’t miss this one – because it changed everything. My moving target days had officially come to an end.”

Rachel’s book is packed with moments like that one, snippets of life as a parent that so many of us can relate to and learn from. Hands Free Mama is structured like a how-to guide with instructions and suggestions on how to curb distracted living and bad habits. Rachel offers a “Hands Free Weekly Intention” after each life lesson she outlines. Weekly intentions include suggestions like turning your phone off in the car so you can sing, talk to, and interact with your kids; Impacting a stranger’s life with kindness and letting your child participate; Envisioning how you desire your most important relationships to be in the future so you can better discern if you’re on the right path now. Don’t let words like “guide”, “instructions”, and “outline” scare you off, though; the book is anything but sterile and boring! The Hands Free Mama managed to masterfully combine endearing, poetically-written, true-life stories while extracting positive insights out of negative behaviors, which she passes along to her readers through realistic and attainable goals. Truly, Rachel puts so much of herself into this book that, by the end, you feel like you’ve been reading a personal letter from a dear friend.

“Hands Free” isn’t just a set of life rules; it’s a new mindset and attitude about where and how you want to invest the best of yourself. And if at any point during the book I wondered if it was “worth it”, this descriptive excerpt near the end of the book put everything into perspective and confirmed that a Hands Free life is, indeed, worth it.

“Reach for his hand and remember how it feels in your own. It will be bigger a year from now. Listen to her sing ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ Close your eyes and memorize her voice. It will not sound so childlike a year from now. Watch her sleep as she awaits a visit from the tooth fairy. She will believe a little less in magical things a year from now. Let him help in the kitchen. Taste much and laugh often. You might find he is no longer your shadow a year from now…”

I wish it was easier to live like that. However, thanks to Hands Free Mama, we have a vision of what it looks like and what it takes to get there. Whether you have babies, kids, teens, or grown children – even no children at all – the message is a universal one: There are magical moments waiting to happen between us and the ones we love most; do not waste this time by being distracted, harried, and stretched too thin.

Put this book on your reading queue; you will not be sorry you did! Buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or directly from the Hands Free website. Enjoy your read!