Book Review: Hands Free Mama



The Hands Free Pledge
I’m going Hands Free.
I want to make memories, not to-do lists.
I want to feel the squeeze of my children’s arms, not the pressure of over-commitment.
I want to get lost in conversation with my spouse, not consumed by a sea of unimportant emails.
I want to be overwhelmed by sunsets that give me hope, not by extracurricular commitments that steal my joy.
I want the noise of my life to be a mixture of laughter and gratitude, not the intrusive buzz of cell phones and text messages.
I am letting go of distraction, disconnection, and perfection to live a life that simply, so very simply, consists of what really matters.
I’m going Hands Free.

Well…I think that Rachel Stafford and I might be twins separated at birth.  Hands Free Mama by Rachel Stafford is basically the transcript of what I have been struggling with in my heart and mind lately.  I often talk about the #7000days that a parent has with their child from crib to college, but lately I’ve not been living that out the way that I should…not in way that honors the Lord and demonstrates that I have so much to be grateful for.  How many times have I missed something that my 5 year old daughter wants to show me because I’ve been scrolling through Instagram pictures of people I barely know?  How many times has she wanted to tell me something, but I am too focused on tweeting about something that really doesn’t matter?  I don’t want Emma to look back on her childhood and think of a Mom who loved her phone more than I loved her and treasured every moment with her.  Honestly, my first thought when I read this book…to chunk my phone in the lake behind our house.  I realize that’s not exactly the goal of this book, but today I took a small step in the right direction.  When we went out to lunch after church, I left my phone in the car.  And you know what…Emma sat by me at lunch and we talked the whole time.  She even leaned over and let me put my arm around her while we were waiting on our check.  I definitely want more of that!  I didn’t even miss looking at pictures of other people’s lunch on Facebook!

I pray that the Lord will renew my focus to put him first in all things and then put my family second.  It’s when I get my priorities mixed up and put myself first that things get out of control.  I’m grateful for this book and a chance to realign my heart and mind to pursue God’s best for me and my family.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted them below…


  • Change begins with a spark of recognition within one’s heart.
  • I am now living life with open eyes, open heart, and open hands—and I never want to go back!
  • “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.  We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”  Dale Carnegie
  • What if one day you realized that all the opportunities you missed couldn’t be retrieved?
  • I felt God’s presence encouraging me to let the other stuff go; nothing was more important than being with my daughter.
  • Living Hands Free does not mean giving up technology altogether, and it does not mean ignoring your job responsibilities, volunteer obligations, or home duties.  Living Hands Free means making a conscious decision to temporarily push aside distractions and give your undivided attention to someone or something meaningful in your life.
  • Rachel’s Definition of Daily Distraction includes anything that
    takes the focus off what truly matters
    prevents me from being fully present
    stops me from investing time and energy in people I love
    hinders my ability to slow down, relax, or get adequate sleep
    holds me back from enjoying life, taking risks, and being my authentic self
  • What are you going to do to ensure that you are grasping the moments that matter today so you don’t live with regret tomorrow?
  • “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.  When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • What might be the long-term impact on this relationship if you do not curb your distracted ways?
  • “At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important.  Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.”  Dr. Lee Jampolsky
  • Living distracted causes you to miss priceless moments of connection that cannot be retrieved.  Living Hands Free, on the other hand, allows you to experience the joy that comes from being fully engaged with others.
  • The memories my children carry with them into adulthood are largely up to me.  In the everyday routines of life, I have the power to provide my children with countless loving memories of human connection.  I also have the ability to leave my children with a scarce supply of meaningful moments together.
  • We can’t see the future.  We can’t predict how all those special nightly tuck-ins or family traditions are going to add up…or can we?
  • The time you invest in the people you love will always add up to something that matters.
  • “There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”  Mahatma Gandhi
  • The truth hurts, but the truth heals—and brings me closer to the parent I want to be.
  • By routinely making yourself available to the people who matter to you, you offer a dependable and constant source of love and support.  When faced with moments of joy and uncertainty, your loved ones will know right where to find you.
  • Make the most of each and every day.  Relish the blessings in my life.  Take nothing for granted.
  • If not today, then when?
  • “You can do anything, but not everything.”  David Allen
  • Does the amount of time and attention I currently offer to my child convey that she is a  top priority in my life?  Where do I invest the bulk of my time and energies?  Are these activities fulfilling to me?
  • Does my current schedule allow for time spent simply being with my child?  Do I have any extracurricular commitments or time-wasting distractions that I could eliminate in order to spend a few minutes of special time each day with my child?
  • Come as you are and live.
  • When you’re tuned into what really matters, the sound of happiness triumphs over perfect chords.  Let joyful imperfection be the chorus of our lives.
  • Letting go of past mistakes is an integral part of the Hands Free journey because it allows the gifts of the present day to become more apparent.
  • When the collisions of life are upon me, I look at my children’s faces and remember what I say and do in that moment might very well be with them forever.
  • “Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.  Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”  Mary Jean Irion
  • The choices I make matter.  The choices I make are critical.  The choices I make mean everything.

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