The Ten Minutes that Changed My Distracted Life

“By offering to give love, you are offering yourself a chance to be loved.”  –Rachel Macy Stafford

“By offering to GIVE love, you are offering yourself a chance to BE loved.”
–Rachel Macy Stafford

Something happened over the holidays that I wasn’t planning to share, but I’ve decided it must not be kept to myself. You see, lately I am getting a lot of messages from readers that say, “I am who you once were, but I don’t know if there is hope for me; I don’t know if I can change; I think it’s too late for me.”

Three and a half years ago, I said those same words to myself. In fact, when I began taking steps to let go of my distracted, perfectionistic, hurried ways I didn’t tell anyone for three months. Why? Because I thought change was not possible for me. I once believed I was too far gone to ever come back. But this past December 24th, I was powerfully reminded what I once believed was so wrong. Here is my story. May it reach someone who longs to believe change is possible. Believing is the first step.

 ______________

We were supposed to leave the house in nineteen minutes. In my hand, I held my child’s holiday dress and her pretty tights.

“Honey, it’s time to wake up and get dressed for the Christmas Eve service,” I said gently to my seven-year-old daughter who was barely visible under a mound of blankets.

“I’m too tired,” she moaned without opening her eyes.

Two hours earlier I’d suggested she take a nap since we’d be up late, but now I was regretting it. My lethargic child looked as if she could sleep for several more hours.

“Come on, I’ll help you get dressed,” I offered.

She didn’t move a muscle.

This was not like her, but yet I was starting to feel agitated. “You can have two more minutes to rest, then it will be time to get up,” I firmly stated using a tactic that worked well with my former special education students.

After tidying up a few things around her room and glancing at my unusually put-together appearance in her mirror, I told my daughter it was time to get up now.

“I don’t feel good,” she cried.

I expelled a long, hot breath before speaking. “Mommy is trying to be patient with you, but I am starting to feel impatient,” I said honestly. “I’ll take you to the bathroom and then I bet you’ll feel better.”

At the pace of an elderly person with bad arthritis, she gingerly crawled out of bed and plopped down on the toilet.

“I will put on your tights right here,” I said knowing we needed to leave the house very shortly if we were going to get seats in the service.

“I don’t feel good,” she repeated once again—but this time the word “good” turned into one long wail. Her face crumpled in pain.

Three and a half years ago, this is when I would have lost it.  This is when I would have gruffly shoved her feet into those tights and barked that we were going to be late. This is when thoughts of my own agenda, my own appearance, my own timetable, and my own demands would have overruled all else. This is when things would have gotten ugly.

But things are different now.

I stopped trying to put on the tights. I leaned back on my bended knees and studied her a moment. I saw my small child (who ordinarily wants to please and do as she is told) not being herself. I considered for a moment letting her go to church in the Dri-Fit clothes she was wearing with her hair sticking up in seventeen directions. I reminded myself that being a few minutes late would not be the end of the world.

And that’s when my child began throwing up. Violent heaves wracked her small body in waves.

Miraculously, I didn’t think about my lovely dress that I had never worn or the time on the clock or the fact she missed the toilet all together. I didn’t think about the fact our dinner party that night would have to be cancelled or that all our fun plans for the evening would be ruined. I only thought was that my precious child was sick on Christmas Eve, the night she’d been so excited about for months.

As I bathed her and tucked her back in bed, I prayed she would feel better tomorrow morning. With the innocence of a child she meekly asked, “Do I have to go to church, Mama?”

I kissed her gently on the cheek. “No, baby. You are sick. Daddy has offered to stay with you while the rest of us go to church.”

“Thank you, Mama,” she said closing her eyes with relief.

Thirty minutes later, I sat in a candlelit sanctuary, my breathing now slow and steady as my older daughter rested against me. And that’s when it hit me—the difference between THEN and NOW. During that episode with my younger daughter I had every reason to become frustrated, impatient, and upset.

But I didn’t.

I was able to look at her as a child, not a miniature adult.
I was able to realize yelling or forcing were not going to help the situation.
I was able to keep what really mattered in perspective while my best laid plans went terribly awry.

Three and a half years ago, I never would have thought I could respond calmly in a time like that. Three and a half years ago, it was unfathomable to think this kind of change in me was possible. I was too Type A. I was a perfectionist … a control freak … a drill sergeant. I’d made too many mistakes. I’d controlled for too long. I’d already done too much damage. This was just who I was … who I had become … who I would forever be.

But there was a little voice inside me that said, “No. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can be the parent and the person you yearn to be.” And through God’s grace, I chose to believe I was not too far gone, that it was not too late. That belief inspired me to take one baby step toward the person and parent I longed to be. I locked my phone in a drawer, shut down my computer, pushed aside my to-do list and I went to my small daughter and held her. I will never forget how she picked up my hand and kissed my palm. Her loving response motivated me to continue to make myself fully available for small increments of time. To my surprise, those I’d wronged responded with love.

With love.

Like there was never any doubt.

My change to a less distracted life started with ten minutes. Ten minutes of putting aside the phone, the computer, the to-do list, the regret, the resentment, the impatience, the guilt, the pressure, and the doubt. I pushed it all away so I could be fully available to love and be loved.

Ten minutes. That is where I started.

And today, that is where you can start too.

You may have a mile-long list of mistakes and failures,
You may have yelled at someone you love just a few minutes ago,
You may feel undeserving of another chance,
You may believe you cannot change,

I know. I remember. But I tried anyway.

And in that initial ten minutes of meaningful connection, I experienced a healing peace that I hadn’t felt in years, maybe even decades. That is when I realized life was meant to be lived …

Not managed
Not controlled
Not screamed
Not stressed
Not strangled
Not guilt ridden
Not regretted
Not wasted by thinking it’s too late to turn things around.

Because as long as you are breathing, it’s not too late to try.

Believe one small step can make a difference.

Believe ten minutes of open hands and attentive eyes can bring hope and healing back to your life.

Believe your life is meant to be lived … enjoyed … even celebrated regardless of what happened yesterday.

And if you are having a hard time believing, offer a few minutes of time and presence to someone you love. Watch what happens when you offer yourself—messy, scarred, and broken, it doesn’t matter. By offering to give love, you are offering yourself a chance to be loved.

Be loved.
Be loved.

My friend, if you have ten minutes and a willing heart, it might just be enough to make a believer out of you.

As long as you are breathing, it’s not too late to try.

ten minutes 2 handsfree mama

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The Hands Free Revolution community consists of people of differing ages, backgrounds, and circumstances. The comments you leave on my blog posts each week are incredibly valuable. Please continue to share your stories, experiences, struggles, and triumphs through comments and links to your own blog posts. One beautiful young writer and member of The Hands Free Revolution community was inspired by my post, “A New Perspective on Past Mistakes.” Caroline’s powerful revelation about the value of past mistakes goes perfectly with today’s post. She writes, “No, it was not my proudest moment, but it has become one of my most valuable. That past mistake has become a touchstone for me in that it shows me everything that I do not want to be. It has helped me make countless decisions and avoid countless regrets. To this day, that memory helps me to open my hands.” You can read Caroline’s entire post here.

Friends, I would love to meet as many of you as possible when I visit Canada on Wednesday (3/5) and Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday (3/6). I will also be speaking at both events. Here are the details:

Canada
Indigo Burlington
March 5th @ 7pm
1250 Brant Street
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
L7P 1X8

Atlanta, GA – please RSVP for this event here
Sweet Spirit
March 6th @ 
7 pm

1205 Johnson Ferry NE

Marietta, GA 30068

My Canadian friends can catch me on the following television shows on March 5th: Breakfast Television, Global Morning, Steven & Chris, and The Social. I am so grateful HANDS FREE MAMA is flying off the book shelves in Canada!

*Today’s blog post shares the first step I took to transform my distracted life. My book, HANDS FREE MAMA, contains all twelve steps I took to address the external and internal distractions that were causing me to miss my life. HANDS FREE MAMA contains my most painful truths, but I believe the truth heals and brings me closer to the person and parent I want to be. Thanks to all who have already bought the book for themselves and people they love.

** For visual reminders to LET GO and LIVE, please check out the HANDS FREE SHOP for gorgeous bracelets, vintage tee’s, and hand-lettered prints. Recently added are beautiful key chains to inspire undistracted driving. Thanks for your loving support!

Signature

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    OMG – I totally identify with that entire piece. I’m a mom of three and there have been times where we were rushing to something a a child has told me they didn’t feel well and I dismissed it as their not listening or wanting to do what I wanted to do and gotten angry only to find out seconds later that they were, in fact, actually sick. The reality of that moment is so powerful and I understand how it just rushes you down to the ground and makes you say “wow, what is wrong with me? how did I miss read that and make it about me and their not wanting to cooperate?” Thank you for sharing these private moments with the world. It helps those of us who can identify and I’d guess to say there is a lot of us who can.

    • 2

      says

      Thank you for stepping into the light of realness with me, Lisa, and letting me know you have been there too. We have all been there. Each day is a chance to learn from our past regrets and try to do things differently. I am so glad you are here.

  2. 3

    Connie says

    If only the tools available at my hands today would have been available to me when I was raising my children. What a difference it would have made for us all. I would have been able to relate and feel like I wasn’t alone. I made so many mistakes for so many different reasons. Because of this I no longer have a relationship with my oldest child but am lucky enough to have one with my other two.

  3. 5

    Tina says

    I have read your blog for long time. This post can be interpreted as one day, you decided to put your phone in a drawer for 10 minutes and “Voila!” everything changed. But what about your post from July 9, 2013, where you talked about that start of your HF journey as a result of being in a near-accident due to distracted driving and it causing such fear in you that you decided to make a change? It seems like your posts are a little less authentic, now that you’ve “gone Hollywood”. Even in this entry, you admit that you almost kept this particular incident to yourself, rather than sharing with your HF community. What gives?

    • 6

      says

      From the post written on July 9, 2013 about the near miss I had at the traffic light (“Ending The Stoplight Excuses“):

      “My hands shook for a good twenty minutes after coming through the near miss completely unscathed. In my rattled state, I felt the urge to reprimand myself for being so damn careless with my precious life—but I didn’t. Instead, I made excuses. But excuses for such reckless behavior come out sounding pathetic, hallow, and downright ludicrous. So I didn’t tell anyone … and acted like it never happened.

      I’d like to say that incident changed me.

      And it did … for about a week. For a week, I didn’t touch my phone while driving, but the urge to call and chat and check were strong. So I went back to making excuses.

      It’ll just be a second.
      The traffic isn’t bad.
      I’ll just check at a stoplight.
      I’m good at multi-tasking.
      The kids aren’t with me.
      This call is important.
      This message can’t wait.

      And for two years after the red light incident, I continued my distracted ways. When I think about the number of times I put my life and my children’s life at risk for the sake of a meaningless call or message, my face burns with shame.

      But one glorious day, while out for a run, I was overcome with regret, sorrow, and clarity. I vowed to stop making excuses as to why I was missing my life – and risking my life – for my distractions.

      Within hours of that life-changing run, I took one of the first steps toward living free from distraction’s powerful grip. I turned off the notifications on my phone and put it in a drawer. No longer would I be controlled by the sound of notifications, beeps, and dings. No longer would my attention on the living beings in my home be suddenly dropped because of the summons from a little black box.”

      As you can see my story hasn’t changed, Tina. What I write comes from my heart and these are my truths. I began my journey privately for three months exactly as I shared here in today’s post and in my new book. In Dec. 2010, I decided to share my journey with the world by publishing my first blog post. It is never easy to publish ones’ most difficult truths, but they come from my heart and many people have gotten closer to their loved ones because of them. As you go forward, I hope that you will go back and check your facts before tearing someone down.

      • 7

        Tina says

        I am aware of what the post reads, because I read it when it was first published, but why is that post no longer archived on your site or on Facebook? How can others check their facts without all the proper information? It’s not about tearing anyone down, Rachel, it’s about being authentic. Not just posting what is most Facebook-worthy or Pinterest-perfect. And I get it, you have a book to sell.

        • 8

          says

          Hi, Tina! Here’s the post you’re both referencing on Rachel’s site:

          http://www.handsfreemama.com/2013/07/09/ending-the-stoplight-excuses/

          I would have to counter that I don’t think Rachel’s goal is — or ever has been — to “sell books,” but to share her experiences. Her books sell because people identify with her message.

          I think Rachel has always been open and honest about her Hands Free Journey being just that — a journey. And on most of our journeys, we encounter pitstops, side trips, road construction, and detours. I think it’s refreshing to know that it’s not about perfection, but instead about moving forward — even if it is one step forward, two steps back.

          For this girl at least, that’s true authenticity.

          • 10

            Tina says

            Thank you for your thoughtful response, Katrina.

            Rachel, the link Katrina provided (which was the same one I was using) was not live at the time my initial comment was posted; I checked it several times, from several sources, and got a 404 error each time. In fact, at that time, there were no archive entries from July 2013, whereas now they appear to have been restored. If it was a matter of a simple oversight or some broken links, why not just say so? Your claws came out the minute someone didn’t agree (gasp!) with everything you said, as per the usual comment stream here.

          • 11

            Xan says

            Tina, your comments here today make me feel a little sad. Please remember to breathe and perhaps find another avenue to channel your bitterness. Rachel is a beautiful person who has chosen to write from deep within herself and the stories she shares continue to help so many of us. Her success is due to her raw authenticity and her courage to be truthful with such unconditional love and compassion. I wish the same for you when journeying upon your path of healing.

    • 12

      Wanda says

      Sour grapes? If this article helped even one person to be a better parent or person, then what is the problem here? I did not realize that Facebook police were now monitoring words of encouragement. I shared your blog ( again today) and so many of my friends were enlightened by your words.

      Was it Christmas Eve or Easter morning; it does not matter, this is not a newspaper: it is a place for you to share your thoughts with others in order to make the world a better place. Anyone sitting on the edge, waiting to ” catch” you in writing about your personal experiences should be so ashamed! If you don’t like or trust the author here, I’m sure you could find someone else to criticize; because there are a few thousand moms out here who have her back!

      My mother used to say that ” if you didn’t learn anything new today, you must have stayed in bed too long, because even as old as I am, I learn something new everyday.” This means that it could have been a dozen ” life changing” experiences that brought you to where you were when writing today’s article, which would account for the accused faux pas. Sincerely! Wanda

  4. 15

    Jenny says

    WOW! That is just beautiful!! THANK YOU so much for reminding me that if I’m breathing, it’s not too late!! You are an inspiration and I praise God for your timely words today!

  5. 17

    Sarah says

    Rachel, I chose your book as our book club book this month. I can’t wait to discuss this with the ladies from my church. I am excited to hear the different perspectives because some women are stay at home moms, some home school and some work full time like me. I know we all struggle in different ways with finding time to identify with our children. I found your blog last summer and I have tried to make changes. I am sad to say that 6 months later, I haven’t change much. I yelled at my son yesterday out of frustration. He is 13 and has ADHD and being cooped up inside due to the cold, cold winter, it’s getting to him. It’s getting to all of us. I am frustrated with my lack of ability to make these changes. When they are in bed at night, when it’s quiet, when I am at work missing them or when I’m reading your book, it’s easy to find resolve and make these promises to change. But in the moment, it is SO hard to remember. But…..it’s working. Slowly, but surely, it’s changing. I still yell, I am sad to say. But not as often. I am making an effort to LOOK at my children when they tell me something. To praise them. I told my daughter after her last basketball game how very much I loved watching her play. She beamed. I actually sat on the couch with her yesterday. I had mounds of laundry to do. But she was watching Annie and she patted the couch next to her. I told her I’d sit with her “in a little while”. Her face fell. So, I plopped down next to her and watched Annie. As the movie went on, she snuggled closer and closer to me with each passing moment. Today, I look back on yesterday and do not regret that I spent 2 hours snuggling my little girl. I don’t even regret that I lost an hour of sleep because I stayed up until 11 folding that laundry after she was asleep. I still fail. Last week, as we were rushing out the door and her brother was arguing with me, she was trying to show me school papers from her bag. She had been given instructions to brush her teeth and put her coat on. But no, she was showing me papers, one after the other, and interupping my “discussion” with her brother, as well. I finally turned to her and said “stop showing me things and GO DO WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO!” She is notorious for having to be told 2 and 3 times to do something. She always finds other things to do on the way to brush her teeth, like, showing mommy her school pictures and stories instead. She finally did what she was told and we left. When I got to work, I saw something in my purse that didn’t belong. I pulled out about 4-5 folded colorful pieces of construction paper…..my daughters school work. After I yelled at her, she must have decided to put it in my purse so I could see it later. It broke my heart. Six months ago, it would have made me sad and that would be it. I would feel terrible all day but I would have rushed home to the next crazy task. Now, it made me even sadder. But I knew what to make both of us feel better. I took those papers home and sat with her and looked in her eyes and apologized for yelling. I explained why I was frustrated, but that I shouldn’t have yelled and that I love to look at her papers. We looked through them and talked about them together, like she had wanted in the first place. So, your blog and book are working. It’s slow, but it’s working. I’m not sure I will ever get to where I want to be, but I am going to keep trying because even if I keep failing, I am still doing a little better than I was before.

    • 18

      says

      Oh Sarah! I find so much HOPE in your message. Yes! This journey is not about perfection, it is about trying, failing, getting back up, and trying again. What a valuable example you are setting for your children. I love the examples you have described of showing you are human and the power of apologizing and forgiveness. I am so grateful you took a moment to share the little changes you have made that are truly quite significant. I am honored to walk beside you, friend.

    • 19

      Missie says

      Sarah- you took the words right out of my mouth! I have a 11 yr old son with ADHD and too am a yeller. I fail at this everyday but try and try again. I often read Rachel’s posts and think “how can apply this to a kid who just doesn’t listen or focus on the tasks at hand?” As well as boys. I think they are just so different than girls and don’t really share as much emotion.
      Your basketball story is the same as my saxophone story, I told him how much I enjoyed listening to him practice and how impressed I was with the progress he’s made in such a short amount of time. I could tell he really liked hearing that. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not in this alone!

  6. 20

    Lindsey says

    I have recently noticed this as well. I have been trying to put aside more time for my daughter and respond to her needs instead of making her wait until I wasn’t distracted by things that are essentially unimportant. I have noticed an immediate difference. She has been more affectionate with me and has stopped the constant whining. Your blog has made me rethink my priorities and put what’s most important first. I think it’s pretty easy to put aside ten minutes here and there without any other distractions, and it makes a huge difference. After a while it becomes more natural to put aside the things that don’t really matter and to give your child your full attention. By doing this, I have also been able to respond to her without anger or frustration because I have made her my highest priority over the little things that don’t really matter. Thank you for changing my perspective, and to your other readers, give it some time. You can change, the first step is to recognize that there is a need for it, and then put in a little effort by taking small steps.

  7. 22

    says

    I so look forward to your posts. I am trying to break the cycle of being a too stressed out yelling mother. Thank you for the reminder that regardless of how long these traits have been present in our families, even inherited from previous generations, all it takes is 10 minutes to change things.

    • 24

      says

      Hi Marina, thank you for the kind message and words of support. Unfortunately, my book signing tour wraps up this week in Canada and Atlanta. If I come in speak in Southern California, I will be sure to put it on my Events page. Thank you!

  8. 25

    Elise says

    I don’t need to have met you to say, I love you. Because I do, and as I love your words and process and myriad of epiphanies that have brought you to where you are, I love myself. It just simply happens in response to the sensitivity and compassion that infuses your writing. The work you are sharing is very powerful, VERY POWERFUL! I see that clearly as a mother of 18 years, as a preschool teacher, and as a friend and ally to mothers. Work of this nature will challenge people in uncomfortable ways sometimes, but I believe it may be the spark of something remarkable in their future process. When someone reacts negatively to your words, I hope for you to see it as a crack where the light can eventually shine. That perhaps their reaction is an integral piece of their inner work.

    In respect, honor and love.

  9. 27

    Leeann says

    Tina, I too was questioning this, as I have been a follower for awhile now. Maybe it was the title of this one, as “we, readers” may recall different earlier posts whereby it was claimed to be the reason she changed her distracted life. In reality, it was probably a series of events, but when I read this title, I thought it was going to be a re-run of the article on when she was yelling at her child for doing something to her sister, when she hadn’t done anything at all. OR, the time when they were ready to leave the house but the youngest had to use the restroom , and I believe water overflowed. This entry is actually about her recognizing the progress she made and is maybe more appropriately titled “10 minutes when I saw improvement from my distracted ways”. (By the way: I had a similar mommy moment with a sick child, but mine involved a vacation day full of prepaid tickets/events. I thought my daughter was just being difficult to spite her sister who was more excited about the days events). I will say, the only thing that could’ve been a “sweeter read” for me, was is if mom had stayed home with her in the end. But then again, we appreciate authenticity, not a made up story, so kudos :)

  10. 28

    Robin says

    Hi! How should I respond when the kids (ages 5.5 & 3.5) will absolutely NOT listen in the morning, and we really do have to be out of the house at a certain minute, or I get in trouble at work for being late. I get SO upset, and yet they have no concept of time. I wake them 60 min before we have to leave (wake up 6:20, leave 7:20), and it’s still not enough time for their dawdling selves, no matter how much I offer to help. AND they don’t even have to eat before we leave since preschool serves breakfast! How do I keep going on without yelling, and without cutting even more into their sleep? Please help! I’m at my wits end.

    • 29

      says

      Hi Robin, one idea that I used with my special education students and also with my daughters to encourage certain behaviors or actions is The Warm Fuzzy Jar. I got a clear jar of colorful pom pom balls from the craft store. I told my students/kids that each time they did something kind or helpful they got to put a “warm fuzzy” in their cup or jar. When they collected a certain amount, we would do something they wanted to do or they could earn a treat. You can make the reward daily or weekly. For younger children, a week is probably too long. Maybe if they earn 5 pom poms that morning, they can have special time with you that evening or a treat of their choosing. What this does is helps them try to do more positive behaviors and it makes you notice positive behaviors rather than what they are not doing. When you first tell your children about the warm fuzzy jar, you should give examples of what would earn him a pom pom. Like, “When I set the timer for you to get dressed and you get dressed before the timer goes off, you can put a warm fuzzy in your cup (or jar). But when you play instead, you don’t get a warm fuzzy.” Or “When I tell you to put on your shoes in the morning and you do it, you can give yourself a pom pom.” They love putting the pom poms in themselves. In fact, that sometimes doing that is an even bigger deal that the reward. I do not take away pom poms that are earned. I would just remind them that what they are doing is not earning a pom pom. Try to notice every positive thing they do and give them a pom pom for it. If you want to inspire yourself not to yell in the mornings, you could have a jar too. Whenever you use a calm voice when you feel like yelling, you can give yourself a pom-pom. You could tell your children you are working on that and they are working on getting themselves ready in the morning more promptly. They would probably love to encourage you. Here is an entire blog post I wrote about The Warm Fuzzy Jar: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2013/05/29/how-to-fill-up-a-child/.

      Keep me posted on how things go! I hope this helps you!

      • 30

        Megan says

        Sorry to butt in here, but I think kids that young just aren’t wired to operate the way adults do. Especially the three-and-a-half year old. Not that I have any idea what’s happening in your house every morning, but I would venture a guess that they’re (as you say) dawdling because that’s what they need to do, in a way, not to annoy you or frustrate you. Maybe seeing it from that perspective would help a little? And Rachel, I love your message and generally send most of your posts off to my friends. I enjoyed this one, too, but the one part I disagree with is this line:

        During that episode with my younger daughter I had every reason to become frustrated, impatient, and upset.

        I don’t think you had every reason. She was sick. I think it’s great that your reaction this time was much different and kinder than it would have been years ago; but I don’t think that a parent showing frustration or impatient with a sick child is ever okay. (Sorry to be splitting hairs, but that really jumped out at me.)

        • 31

          says

          Megan,

          It sounds like you thought Rachel was saying it was OK to feel frustrated, impatient and upset with a sick child. No wonder it jumped out at you!

          Based on everything else she said in the post, I read that as being a statement of how things used to seem to her before she learned to see things from her child’s perspective. I thought she was making the same point you made for Robin above, that when we get caught up in our own perspectives and forget to see things from the child’s perspective, it really does look to us like our frustrations are justified. But when we see it from theirs, we realize they aren’t and an apology is in order. I took that to be Rachel’s meaning, not that she was condoning being frustrated and angry with a sick child.

          I’m glad you brought it up, though. I know Rachel hates to be misunderstood, so I hope this clears the air.

          I just posted a reply to Zoe below at Rachel’s request that you might enjoy. It’s all about how seeing the child’s perspective helps keep us from reacting with frustration and anger. Your point exactly! http://www.handsfreemama.com/2014/03/03/the-ten-minutes-that-changed-my-distracted-life/#comment-101598

  11. 33

    says

    My mother and I don’t have a great relationship – she was a single working mother of two girls and we were all snippy and critical of each other. I have these tendencies with my husband – to be stressed, nag, snippy, criticize, push him away and assumed I was doomed for a similar future in motherhood. Having my son 19-months ago has started to open my eyes to how much time I spend looking at a device and looking at to-do lists and calendars, and not looking into his eyes. It’s how I ended up finding your blog and pre-ordering your book (which I haven’t yet started to read, alas!). I now have hope that I am not fated to “become my mother” or have the same relationship with my children that she had with us. It’s easy to make excuses – that my son is too young to notice or be aware, but I’m so grateful that I’ve already started this journey with my eyes open instead of 5, 10, 15 years from now. Thank you for being that catalyst.

    • 34

      says

      Thank you for sharing your story, Valery. I am certain that someone is reading this and feeling less alone because of your honest words and experiences. I am so glad you found hope in journey and given you a starting point. I think you will find everything you need to keep moving forward in the book. Thank you for being here.

    • 35

      Jessica M says

      Valery, Your first two sentences are my life and fears exactly. There have been so many times that I’ve read this blog, and think that it is more applicable to my marriage and how I interact with my husband than my daughter who is only 1.5 years old. I fear my relationship with my daughter degrading as she becomes older (like mine did with my mom). Thank you for sharing. I’m right there with you.

      Rachel, your words are such an inspiration for those of us trying to be good to the people we love most.

  12. 36

    Kerry says

    I am so thrilled that you are coming to my neck of the woods this Wednesday!! I have the sitter booked (Nana) and I have my fave book (yours) ready to go. Thank you once again for opening my eyes to how I should be spending my moments with my beautiful girls.

  13. 38

    Jo Ann says

    Thanks. That’s all. I just wanted to thank you for reminding me to get off the computer. :o) I’m going to go on all fours now and play with my kids. Dishes and laundry can wait.

  14. 39

    Lisa Woodley says

    Thank you for this post. I have been in this place and still currently (at times) in this place. Its good to know I’m not alone and that I can be the mother I yearn to be. I’ve just finished my morning cup of tea so I’m off to rouse my 7 year old out of bed and off to school, which is a constant battle – but this morning I’ll try it from a place of love. x

  15. 41

    says

    Oh my goodness, Rachel – I love this post! It’s really powerful to take note of the small moments that show us that change IS possible, that we are not the same people we once were. It’s tempting to deny the impact of these small changes, but deep down we know better. When we’re able to focus our energies on a sick child rather than a change of plans … when we’re able to help a friend clean up after an accident without placing blame … when we’re able to take a deep breath rather than launch into an argument … those are indicators that our hearts are being changed, that love is winning out in our lives.

    Plus, I literally squalked when I realized that you’d linked to the story I wrote at the end — thank you so much! You made my morning. :) xoxo

  16. 42

    Heather says

    Your blog has given me power when I feel powerless. I had my “aha” moment yesterday with my toddler son. He wanted to mimic something I had done earlier in the day, and he was taking so long at doing it. I told him let’s go downstair I’ve got “things” to do. As I left his room, I saw the look in his face and my inner child crumbled. What was so important that I had to leave him at that moment? So I went back into his room, watched as he tried something new and gave him a big smile and hug at his attempts. Laundry, dishes, and cleaning house take second place to the small moments with my son. These are the moments I can never get back.

  17. 43

    says

    What a beautiful post. I especially loved the last part and these words “Believe your life is meant to be lived … enjoyed … even celebrated regardless of what happened yesterday.” I feel that is what God wants for each of us–to do good, love, reach out, be kind–and do our best although we have made mistakes. He loves us and we should love ourselves, forgive ourselves, and take that step to be better regardless of the mess up the day before or the moment earlier. As for your words about believing being the first step, I purchased a print for my daughter at Christmas (one of many for the girls and myself) and it says “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt They are beautiful prints found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/penandpaint and I think I see another I would love to have–it simply says “You’re so Loved” :)

  18. 45

    Toniko says

    Do you mean you decided to start taking 10 minutes each day or after 10 minutes of the decision to change you never went back? I have tried and tried but feel like I still fail constantly (kids are 2 and 4)? I feel like I live on my computer some days, hopping on and off 5 times or more to ‘quick check’ something but it lasts for 30 min to an hour sometimes :( I keep telling myself that this rhythm I am setting is showing them how they should act and I hate it but feel so powerless to change. I have ADD (non medicated ever) and have such a hard time with home schedules. When I use to work and had a manager or boss it was somehow easier to stay in line and on task. I think that being in 21″ of -4 degree snowland is not helping either :(

    • 46

      says

      Hi Toniko, thanks for the question. I began trying to wean myself from my addiction to technology, hurriedness, productivity with a ten minute period that was distraction free. I would do that ten minute period of being Hands Free several times a day. As my children and spouse responded positively, my ties to distraction weakened and I found myself craving more and more Hands Free time. Some of my readers who are using my book as their guide actually set a timer for 10 minutes and find this to be very helpful for staying focused on their loved one or whatever they are doing that feels meaningful to them.

  19. 47

    says

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is so encouraging to my heart. I’ve been so “busy” (with nothing at all really). So stressed, so controlling and overwhelmed by the demands of my children. I don’t take the time I should for my kids these days and find myself detached from those I once thought hung the moon. My heart aches to get back to the mom who loved her kids, loved her family and always saw them as joy instead of something in the way. Hopefully I can get there too because I want the joy back I want the love back.
    Thank you again for your encouragement!
    Now to put down this phone and cuddle up my little one :)

  20. 48

    Christi says

    WOW, how timely! I have struggled with this today! Another unplanned bad weather day, too many work distractions and a grumpy kiddo when daddy left and mommy had to take over! With so many responsibilities and the constant weight of being a good mom, wife, employee and person, I lost it! I feel like my child gives me her worst sometimes – I get the hits, tantrums, picky eater, etc., etc. and it’s so hard to not be focused on being present when all I want to do is escape it all. I try to give love and be focused, but it’s hard to maintain when it feels like it’s being rejected. I’ll try to not be distracted, but it’s a constant battle. And I’m the queen of multitasking – I feel like as women, we have to be! It’s so hard to do it all, but I think we’re the only ones that think we SHOULD do it all. Oh the battles we fight! Again, awesomely great reminders and my focus for the rest of this day and remaining (hopefully)!

  21. 49

    Wanda Fields says

    Thanks so much for your blog. You talk about people of all ages reading your blog. Well, I am a 58 year old grandmother raising my 3 year old granddaughter. If you don’t think that presents challenges, think again. I’m trying to provide a loving and nurturing environment. I also care for my aging, housebound mother. The challenges are overwhelming at times but your blog and book keep me going when I need encouragement and advice. Keep up the great work.

    • 50

      says

      Thank you, Wanda. You are an inspiration to me! I am honored to share this journey with you. I am grateful to know my messages offer you a little hope and strength as you do the most important work a human being can do. Big hugs to you today, friend.

  22. 51

    Alisha says

    Thank you for so publicly sharing your journey. I am getting better and making strides and some days are better than others. Every day I wake up and know that even if yesterday wasn’t perfect I can try again and I am not nearly as frustrated and quick to anger as I was 3 months ago. Yesterday I was getting frustrated so I removed myself from the situation and gave myself a “time out” so I didn’t yell at my daughter. For me that was a big victory.

  23. 52

    Lloyd Neale says

    Rachel,

    What an absolutely incredible message to all of us regarding our life’s journey. Like you, I’m a perfect example of one of God’s creatures that believes just one simple step of change in our lives can make a difference in healing one’s soul. It was the recognition and affirmation I would give myself when I made a change that continued to make differences in my life, plus letting God know what a blessing he was in my life for making me into the person I wanted to be. Regardless in one’s situation there is hope for change and your message is one powerful reminder to all of your faithful readers who respect your written words that ALWAYS come from the heart. BLESS YOU RACHEL!

  24. 55

    says

    Thank you for this. I’m so grateful for your exhortation to try, even if we worry it’s too late, even if we worry we won’t do enough. Thank you. xox

  25. 56

    Kim Laird says

    Your blog post came at such an important time for me. Thank you so much for sharing your story and that of Caroline’s. I do have a suggestion, however, about the blog’s typography. Grey letters on white background is challenging to read for those of us with visual impairments. Any chance this could be changed to black letters instead? Thanks in either case!

    • 57

      says

      Kim, thank you for the kind words. And thank you for letting me know about the typography. I will reach out to the person who designed my site and see what she can do. It may take a little over a week, but I definitely want to try to fix this!

  26. 58

    Sandi P says

    I’ve just recently discovered your blog, and it resonates with my life. My children are all grown now, but I had a very similar problem with my husband. For the last couple of decades I have blamed him for every little thing wrong in my life and our children’s lives. I’ve even tried to leave him at one time. I’ve felt that I hated him more than anything, until I did a meditation on what was most important in my life. Like a bolt from the blue, I realized the hate was projected on him for things he had little or nothing to do with. While there are plenty of things he does that are wrong, I’ve realized it’s not all his fault, and even when it is, I can still love him. By feeling free to love him, my own outlook has improved, and so has his. This may be a bit off topic, but I feel this attention to loved ones affects more than just our children.

  27. 60

    Michelle says

    I just have to tell you how much of an impact you have made on my life. I am 39, and I have a 4 year old girl and a 15 month old boy. Even at 4, my little girl is quickly growing into who she will become as an adult. She is so independent, vibrant, creative, persistent. Her imagination soars! I have had to check myself several times when she has her own idea of how things should be. I enjoy watching her learn and discover, but it saddens me knowing she will soon not need me as much. I have learned from you that I need to put down my phone and be in the moment. I never really thought I was on it that much, but reality proves otherwise. I want to be there for my kids. I want them to remember me, not my time on the internet. I am halfway through your book, and it is showing me how much farther I have to go. One day at a time! Thank you for sharing your weaknesses and accomplishments!

  28. 62

    Laura says

    Hi Rachel,
    I have been following you for most of my sons life. He is 11 months today :-)
    I love your philosophy and don’t tend to spend any time on my phone when he is awake – in fact I glanced at my emails today while playing on the floor with him and your message made me put it away. Seemed wrong to read the hands free post at that time… Baby steps, yes, but I am glad to be getting your reminders this early in my journey as a parent.

    Now here is my question: how can I best convince my husband to go hands free when he is home?! Since we own our company, it seems there is always a pressing email/what’s app/phone call or other form of smoke signal that needs to be responded to right then and there… There has been a lot of resistance when I mention anything about phone use…

    • 63

      says

      Hi Laura, I would designate some time that you and your husband can talk without interruption so you can tell him you are concerned about both his health and his ability to bond with you and his son because he is always connected to the device. Explain that you know how important his communications are with his clients, but putting away the phone from dinner time through your son’s bedtime each day would offer him a time each day to enjoy his precious son and take a break from the online world. Health-wise, this is very important. And if he feels that is too much of a break from his online responsibilities, start smaller. Even if nightly tuck in time for your son could be distraction-free, something your son could count on, that would be a start. Your husband could experience the beautiful results of being ALL THERE and it would hopefully motivate him to increase the time. You might also suggest a weekend afternoon or weekend day that could be device-free. The post that resonated with millions of people and inspired them to put dow the phone regardless of their occupation was How to Miss a Childhood. http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/05/07/how-to-miss-a-childhood/. You might ask your husband if you can read this to him. You might also describe what happens between you and your son when you give him your undivided attention. You could explain that you want your husband to experience this amazing connection with his son, too. Good luck. I wish the very best for you both. Thank you for believing there is hope.

  29. 64

    says

    Thanks you, Rachel, for getting to the heart of what really matters, reminding us that loving and being loved is living!

  30. 65

    Amy says

    Thank You so much for sharing this :) What a day it has been !! I know where I went wrong now I just can’t wait to get it corrected. I home school my two boys and my days can get so crazy so fast. Especially Mondays. Thanks for being so real :) God Bless You ~ Amy

  31. 66

    Jenn says

    I feel blessed reading your blog. I am a type A person also and your writing has inspired me to become a better mom. To God be the glory!

  32. 67

    Jennifer says

    I’ve been following your blog for at least a year now and have appreciated the reminders of a better way of handling my two boys, 10 and 7 yrs old. There have been more yelling matches then I’d like to admit but this year I really meant to be more in control of my emotions. When I see my boys act like me, it scares me. This is such a long hard journey! I know it won’t happen over night but I can see changes in all of us. They are talking to me more, and I am trying really hard to listen to them more. Funny how they seem to want to talk when we’re rushing out to the next hockey game. I can’t wait until I can reflect on “then” and “now” , or say “three years ago I would have reacted a different way”. It’s coming, and I’m so thankful! You will impact someone with this story and they will try again. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  33. 68

    Julia Kurskaya says

    Before reading your post yesterday, I was in the situation where I had all the reasons to feel angry and express this feeling. I chose not to. My husband said that “I have a right to be angry” actually means “I have a right to be unhappy”. We are free to choose what we want. Thank you, Rachel.

  34. 69

    says

    As one of a possible minority of males who follow your blog, your experiences are non gender biased. One can change and be a better mother…or father. I hope many will benefit from your Christmas experience and ability to change.

    • 70

      says

      Thank you for taking time to comment. I am thankful to have lots of dads and grandpas walking beside me on this journey. Although they don’t comment as often as my female readers, I receive many heartfelt email messages and know the guys are here too, trying to be loving, present, and connected to the people who matter most. Thank you for taking time to share your beautiful thoughts. I’m so glad you are here.

  35. 71

    Zoe says

    Hi Rachel, I really feel that sometimes you are writing this blog just for me! Can I ask you how you stop yourself from getting frustrated and angry in noncompliant times? It is probably what I am struggling with the most. How do I let go of my inner frustration?

    • 72

      says

      Hi Zoe, thank you for the kind words and the great question. Here are some things that work well for me:

      These are not in any particular order:

      1. My ability to better control my anger changed when I started thinking of my harmful words hitting my children like a car colliding with an object and causing great damage. So just like a driver who is anticipating a damaging collision with another vehicle, I let off the gas … I pull back … I pause to avoid permanent damage. 
In those moments when I am about to yell or explode, I remain silent just long enough for the angry words to dissipate. I hold the words under my tongue for just a few moments until the moment is past. I have discovered that even a few seconds of pause can prevent tragic results.

      2. In times of challenge, I try to look at their faces and remember they are children. They are children who learn by making mistakes. They are children who trust me to care for them and love them. And just taking that moment to look at them, really look at them, and even see them as babies again, I am able to grab some perspective. But most of all, just taking that PAUSE just long enough to THINK about what I am about to say, helps me choose a more calm response.

      3. Realize we will make mistakes. Yes, there will be days when we yell. But I have learned it is powerful to say, “I am sorry I yelled. I didn’t handle my anger very well. Will you forgive me?” This teaches children we are human. We make mistakes, we admit them, learn from them, and try to do better.

      4. Inform your children what you are working on. I think that telling children, “I am trying not to yell. Here are the ways you can help me …” My children love it when I let them encourage me in my struggles. I did this when I was trying not to use my phone in the car. My children loved to encourage me and remind me of my goal.

      5. I would recommend giving yourself grace as much as possible. Not beating yourself up when you do slip. Even if you can reduce the yelling, that is significant and your children will see that you are trying. This makes a difference. Yelling is often our first response. Try as much as you can to choose the second response. Celebrate the new choices you are making to show up and do your best each day.

      6. Be sure to check out the Orange Rhino Challenge to curb yelling. http://theorangerhino.com/the-challenge-details/ I love her quote here: “I was just saying the other night how sometimes a little extra love really helps me to get my boys to listen. They like to feel loved and I love to give love. Sometimes it is hard to in the heat of the moment, but it is always easy to remember how great it felt to handle a tough situation with a little more love.” -The Orange Rhino

      I have invited my colleague, Sandy Blackard, to share her thoughts and ideas with you too. She is a parent coach and author with excellent strategies to offer us all. She will comment on the blog sometime today so check back.

      Wishing you all the best! Love, Rachel

      • 73

        Zoe says

        Thank you so so much! God is using you to answer my prayers. I will check out the Orange Rhino Challenge and I will check back to read Sandy Blackard’s thoughts and ideas. Thank you for taking the time to help me and answer my question. You are ever so valuable.

      • 74

        says

        Zoe,

        Rachel has given you some great strategies for the heat of the moment and afterwards. I hope you will try them and see what works for you.

        I start at a little different place. Since I see feelings as automatic responses to the way we perceive a situation, my work focuses on changing perceptions rather than changing reactions. Managing emotional reactions is incredibly difficult and can lead to guilt if you think you should be able to control your feelings and can’t. Changing perceptions is much easier, long lasting and guilt-free.

        As I see it, our automatic response process goes like this: we see something happen, our brain assigns a meaning to it, and we react to the meaning we assign. That all happens in the blink of an eye. What I teach is a way to interrupt the process by saying what you see. Describing what you see in as objective a manner as possible (just the facts) keeps the meaning out of it and keeps you present to what is actually happening. No meaning, no reaction.

        Seeing is the key because it keeps you focused on what IS happening instead of what is NOT happening for one simple reason – you can’t actually see something that is not happening. Nonetheless, a lot of our angry reactions are to thing that are NOT happening like “not listening,” “not behaving” or, as in your case Zoe, “not complying.”

        As weird as it might sound the “nots” only occur in our minds, not in the world in front of us. And while we are in our heads, if those “nots” are perceived to be intentional, a negative meaning is assigned and our natural emotional response is anger and frustration. That’s why it’s so hard to change our reactions; because they are actually the right reactions to what we perceive.

        So how to get out of your head into the moment? Say what IS happening. For example, in the case of NOT complying, when you use your eyes and say what the child IS doing, it might sound like this: “You’re playing, and it’s time for shoes,” or “You’ve got the toy car, and your brother is crying,” or “You’re walking away, and I just asked you to take out the trash.” While hearing yourself criticize and judge can upset you more, saying what you see (even through gritted teeth) can keep you focused on what is actually happening and keep you calm.

        It also does two other seemingly magical things that give you a chance to respond calmly like Rachel does after she pauses:

        1. The lack of judgment invites your children to tell you their actual intentions. As you have seen in every one of Rachel’s stories, her perception changes when she understands her child’s intention. Sometimes that moment is immediately after a pause, and sometimes later when she apologizes. But always, when she sees the child’s point of view her reaction changes (as does ours following along as readers).

        In my example for playing instead of putting on shoes, the child might tell you, “I wasn’t done playing;” for the fight: “I wanted the car;” or for the trash: “I need to do something else first.”

        2. At the same time, saying what you see allows you to gather more judgment-free information that deepens your understanding of the child’s intentions:

        In my example for playing you might suddenly realize: “You like finishing things;” for the fight: “You didn’t think he would share it;” or for the trash: “That other thing is important to you.”

        Notice how the child’s intentions in Rachel’s stories and in these examples are never anything like the ones we would tack on in our minds. I don’t know what yours are but mine were things like, “You’re trying to make me late,” “You two are trying to keep me from getting my work done,” or “You’re just trying to make me mad!” While it might not seem like it until you hear it from your own child a few times, children’s intentions are actually always good until we teach them otherwise with our judgmental statements.

        Of course after saying what you see, you don’t stop there especially when there is a problem to be solved like getting shoes on, sharing a toy, or taking the trash out. I can’t cover all of that here, but if you’d like to know more details about how to say what you see and the two additional steps I teach for providing reward-free, punishment-free guidance, I invite you visit my website where you can read my little book, SAY WHAT YOU SEE for Parents and Teachers, watch videos and more: http://www.languageoflistening.com

        I’m stopping here now since the purpose of this reply is to give you another way to respond to children that can help you stay calm. But as you already know, when you are able to start your interactions with children by understanding instead of by yelling, criticizing or judging, you are in a much better place to decide what to do next, and so are your children. They can cooperate more easily when they feel understood and valued.

        • 75

          Zoe says

          Thank you Sandy for your response to my question. I must admit, I had to read it over several times to really understand what you were saying, but it does make sense. I will now check out your website and read what you have to say there.
          Thank you again for your support. It’s lovely to know we are never alone and that there are people out there willing to help us. :)

  36. 76

    says

    You had the moment before you set out to church – there’s a spirit key there, that our moments of insight and beauty come in our travels to faith, not on arrival.

    As lovely as ever, keep up the excellent inspiration and writing. Each time you post, I become a slightly better parent. :)

  37. 78

    Sarah G says

    As a mom-to-be expecting my first baby (a girl!) in June, I truly look forward to each and every post of yours and tuck them away as mental notes for how to rein in my Type-A/controlling/drill instructor demeanor when my child eventually arrives. I have always feared I would not be the loving, nurturing parent I hope to be. I’ve never expressed my emotions well, or openly shown love to hardly anyone. But I hope that by taking notes from someone like you, who is so relatable and real and vulnerable, I can give my daughter the mother she deserves to have. Keep up the great work.

    • 79

      says

      Thank you, Sarah. Your supportive, loving words have spoken right to my heart. What a gift you have given me today. Just to know you are here fuels me to keep sharing, even when my hand shakes to hit “publish.”

  38. 81

    Michelle W. says

    Just as many others have commented above, I feel like you just described an exact event at my house in your post above. I will try to hurry my kids in the mornings before school and I find myself yelling at them and forgetting that they are just kids. And that they don’t understand the stresses of the day that lie ahead for me (that are most likely causing me to get frustrated with them so easily). I am trying to be calm and take a breath to really, truly step back from the situation before I react just as you did above. I am definitely not good at it yet, but admitting it is the first step, right?

    Thanks so much for yet another great post. I enjoy each and every one. Now if I could just find the time to sit down and read your much-anticipated book I’ve had on my Kindle since its release. :)

  39. 83

    Sharon says

    I love this post, and your website. You always inspire me and give me home. I’ve really tried to “disconnect” from the phone, the constant distractions, and I feel like I’ve been doing a better job of being available. But sometimes, I’m just so…tired, bored, blah, it’s easier to surf the web or play around on FB and instagram instead of being present for my husband or kids or even for myself. I’m really having a hard time just… being. Like being able to sit around and enjoy the moment and just be. I feel like my mind always needs to be doing something or I start getting antsy. So, I’m trying to disconnect but I feel like I’m still distracted. Any tips for this particular problem? Thanks so much Rachel.

  40. 84

    says

    Powerful post today! It is a strong reminder that we must stay vigilant. I am still early in my journey to be the mother who doesn’t immediately yell. I have been the mother you describe who would have shoved her daughter’s feet in her tights and started yelling. It was an awful feeling. Last summer, I changed my life drastically when I gave up full-time work for part-time freelancing and moved back to my roots. I needed to completely uproot myself and to eliminate as many of life’s stressors as I could in order to get control of my yelling, stressed out, distacted self. It is working. I am a work in progress, but on those rare days when my voice gets that edge in it, my 6-year-old daughter is quick to curb it with “mommy, please don’t yell.” The shame of my past actions takes my breath away every time, but I tell myself that at least now things are different. My daughter is happier and so am I and I will fight my inner volcano tooth and nail to keep it that way.

  41. 86

    Tiffany Reed says

    Hi Rachel! I absolutely LoVE your blog and follow you on FB. I think in this generation and society we are missing deep connections and interactions with the most important relationships around us. We are all too plugged into technology. I have a question for ya? You are an such an amazing blogger, wrote a book, and also engage in speaking events so my question is, with your philosophy and what you write about, how do you do everything with making time for your family and God? When do you blog and write with the being a hands free mama? I love to write in journals for my baby and also journal and dabble in blogging myself, but find that I can not keep up with it. So I guess I’m just wondering your practicality of your blogging?

    • 87

      says

      Hi Tiffany, thanks for sharing your thoughts and your question. Writing and speaking has become my profession, so like with any job, we have certain hours that we do it. I write/blog while my children are in school each day and sometimes in the evening after they go to sleep. When I began my journey, I made a commitment to have my Hands Free time be from the moment I picked them up from school until they went to bed. I have kept that commitment even when the blog started to gain popularity and I was asked to do interviews during that time.

      I wrote most of my book in a very short time and my family all pitched in to help carry the load during that time. The Hands Free message has become something our whole family is invested in and I try to include my family whenever I can in spreading the message as long as they want to. The response of the book brought lots of opportunities. I have had to decline many great opportunities because it takes too much time away from what matters most to me. If I were not living the Hands Free life — connecting to my family and listening to God’s calling on my heart, I could not continue to write these messages. Therefore, I am doing all I can to protect what is most important while still doing what I feel is my God-given purpose–to write and share the Hands Free message.

      I purposely waited until both of my daughters were in school to begin blogging. When I knew I had 7 hour chunks of time to write and publish, that is when I knew it was time to try to achieve my life-long dream of being an author. I also gave up television at that time. I knew that if I was going to free up my time to write, I must create more time. Not watching tv has freed up my time and allowed me to really focus on reading and writing.

      I feel blessed to share this message with so many wonderful people. When my girls were young, I kept notebooks and jotted down writing ideas. Some of those things I read now for inspiration. I love that you are journaling and who knows where it could take you? Thank you for asking.

  42. 88

    says

    I read your blog as a reminder that there’s hope for our world.
    To me, that’s what this post was about, and I appreciate you for the bravery it takes to represent that. It brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

    Sary

  43. 90

    Agnieszka says

    I started my journey with your post about yelling. A few months later, things are WAY better :) I have been using various tactics, including each of the family members working on a certain thing that annoys the rest of the family most. It is during a family meeting that we make the decision who is working on what. The kids pick up stuff for me and my husband, too. The chart on the fridge shows us each day whether we have made progress, and we can be proud of ourselves (most of the time ;)).

    Thank you for all your posts! I have seen the atmosphere at home change for the better. The kids are so much happier without me yelling, I feel so much better and less stressed out. Both girls help out with stuff, too, knowing that this way Mummy has more time for them.

    I work as a conference interpreter. One of my recent assignments included interpreting interviews with an author of a book. When talking to the publishing house after this promotional event, I recommended your book as a must – read for every mother. Fingers crossed now that it gets translated into Polish :)

  44. 92

    Monica says

    Rachel,

    Your story really has hit home for me. I am a drill sargeant mom. I grew up in the same type of house hold, as well as a house of yelling. That is all we ever heard, and I remember when I was a child hiding in the corner of the room yelling at my parents to stop fighting and yelling and now that is what I do to my children. My fault it yelling all the time about everything. I cannot express to you how much I identify with your story, but it also makes me feel better that I am not alone, I am not the ONLY person who feels they may be more of a drill sargeant than a mom. I have found a new motivation today, I am going to take a breath and proceed with my children. My children are my world and I dont want them to resent me, or continue this path that I have learned that yelling is the answer to everything. Again, thank you for sharing your story.

    Monica

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    says

    It’s great when we can see that we have grown. It’s reaffirming and inspiring.
    I am in the midst of trying to be more patient with my kids. It is going better, and I have been having weekly conferences with my younger son. They help.

  46. 95

    Sara says

    Last week, I lost a childhood friend. She went to bed at night with a headache and did not wake up the next morning. She was 39, a healthy mother to eight beautiful children ranging from 2-13 years old. I have not stopped crying. This friend had the deepest, throatiest, heartiest laugh with a positivity unmatched by anyone I knew.
    Her death was a MAJOR wake-up call for me. Up until that day I lived my life as one big fat race. Racing from 7 am until I conked out at midnight. No more. If what happened to my friend could G-d forbid ever happen to me, I don’t want my last days, hours, weeks or years to have been spent running around like a chicken without a head, ticking off lists, getting it all done…No. I want to have LIVED each moment. I have not looked at my list in 3 days (huge for me). I am doing what I can and the rest, too bad. I am going to stop and live each and every moment and BE in each and every moment. If you only knew what peace has come over me since I acknowledged this, what utter happiness and joy I feel, you would do it too. My friend’s positivity did not die with her, it has simply been transferred to me and all who knew her.

    • 96

      says

      I am deeply sorry for your loss, Sara. Thank you for honoring your friend by sharing the profound impact your loss has had on your life. It will inspire someone reading today. What a gift you have given us all in honor of your friend.

  47. 97

    says

    Rachel, I just wanted to thank you for giving your gift. I know you are taking a much-needed and much-deserved break, and I think you have made sacrifices writing your book, traveling, and keeping up with your blog – but I wanted to let you know that your posts, which I only get the chance to read occasionally, are often read at times when I need reminders, when I’ve reverted back to some bad habit that I thought I had broken (like constantly checking my phone for no really good reason). So thank you for always reminding me to live life :)

  48. 98

    Shalo says

    Rachel,
    I want you to know that I (and I’m sure the majority of the people who read your blog) know that what you write comes from your heart, that it is your truths as you see it at each moment you are writing it, and it is deeply personal and therefore could be nothing else BUT authentic. You are selflessly putting your words out there for other people to use to THEIR benefit, not yours. I am so glad that this blog has been so successful and that you are able to publish a book. Writing is your beautiful gift and you share it with others. You deserve to financial compensation. You are helping parents try harder, which is improving child/parent relationships, and therefore creating emotionally healthy children who will grow into healthy adults who may or may not become parents themselves. The impact is huge and it grows exponentially. I cannot imagine taking my most personal moments and placing them out in the open where they could be criticized and analyzed and even attacked. And when I recall past events, especially those connected to high levels of emotion, it isn’t usually possible to get the details exact. And our perception of past events changes as we experience future events therefore making it harder to get the details the same every time. Given all of that, I don’t think you contradicted previous posts at all and I’ve been reading them for some time now. My point is that even if you had contradicted yourself the details are not what are important. If we analyze the details we lose sight of the big picture and its meaning, then we gain nothing from your journey that you choose to share with us.

    • 99

      says

      Thank you, Shalo. I am at a loss for words to describe how much this beautiful message means to me … and that you know my heart and my intentions. You have blessed me today. Thank you for walking beside me, friend.

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    Christine Roberts says

    Thank you for the above article! I am in the process of changing our lives by quitting a job i have had for 11 years to go to university… I feel the pain of guilt from not having enough patience and time to love and appreciate my3 year old son as working full time and dealling with daily chores, paying bills, protecting us from crazy neighbours, and a line of nasty negative people all while dealing with depression has made the transformation from independant career woman to being a mommy that much harder. Daddy is not around anymore and this has made the guilt heavier…but because of the toxic nature of the relationship it has made the load lighter over time and our lives more happy and positive.
    Just last night my son, Lochlann, was being difficult about going pee before bed and I felt my adrenaline start to pump–from being tired, hungry or hurt, not quite sure but was obviously not his fault. As I was about to raise my voice at him with impatience, something took over and I sat back, took a deep breathe and spoke to him in a calm loving manner…and all was fine in the end. However my guilt of not being good and in control like this in the past came flooding in and i felt like a bad mom once again.. i should have been proud of my realization but the guilt of the past wont go away…
    Your article helped me see i am not alone and that i actually am getting better at being a mom… If not for the love of my boy, I am not sure I would be here today to read your blog. So thank you for spreading your words of love, truth and the strength it takes to be a mom ever minute of the day. God bless

  50. 101

    Lorie says

    Dear Rachel, I am always in massive tears when I read your blog. Every time I still tell my first child (aged 9) to hurry up I think of your blog “The day I stopped saying hurry up” and wonder if it really is possible one day to not say that if you have, as you also say, a “lethargic” and dreamful child, who forgets what to do in every instant, just standing there and looking blankly. I currently do not see a change here.

    • 102

      says

      Lorie,

      Rachel has invited me to respond to some of her readers who request parent coaching. It sounds like you would love to give your child the space and time he/she needs without feeling rushed, and yet there are deadlines and schedules that won’t wait. You have probably tried to hold back and let the child take actions on his/her own, and as you said, have not seen a change.

      The thing to realize is that by 9 children that have been rushed can believe that they simply are slow, or as you say, lethargic, dreamful, and forget what to do. Negative beliefs about self like that can become inner-bullies later in their lives. The step that can change all of that is helping the child see him/herself in a new way by finding hidden strengths.

      For example, a child looking blankly is probably waiting for direction, and he/she is right that it will come. You could start by saying that as in, “You know that you can count on me to tell you what to do to get ready, so it makes sense that you would wait on me for directions. I know you don’t like to hurry, and when I give you directions I’m usually already in a rush. Must be some way you can get ready without the rush… some way to move at a pace you like and be on time, too.”

      When you brainstorm with children, you will find that their solutions often work better for them than ours do. Then if even just some of what they suggest works, you can point out that success as a strength and return to brainstorming for the rest. For example, “You found a solution that worked for you. You put your backpack by the door the night before as a reminder. I’ll bet you can come up with another one for having all the time you want to eat your breakfast, too. I wonder what it will be…” Celebrating little successes adds up to greater confidence, more empowerment and self-initiated action steps.

      If children have their own pace that is slower than their parents’ what you want them to know is that there is nothing wrong with them. Their pace is fine, and they can find solutions to step on and off of whirlwind schedules of life (as they must seem to them) without having to change who they are. Children who think they are wrong to be the way they are, either resign to it, or fight to prove that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Both create inner-bullies and less cooperation. However, once children learn to embrace their natural pace and recognize their strengths, the resignation and resistance disappear, and they grow up knowing they can work with anything.

      Plus being able to enjoy a slower pace when the time is right is possibly the most important part of a healthy lifestyle and something we can definitely learn from children like yours. In that, your child is ahead of the game.

      If you have any specific situations you would like to discuss, feel free to contact me at my website. How you handle moments like this can change your child’s life. http://www.languageoflistening.com

      • 103

        Lorie says

        Dear Sandy, thank you for your quick and long reply. I was really surprised and happy! You are right in suggesting that she has low self confidence and thinks that she is no good at anything. I was wondering about this recently and came to the conclusion that it is no wonder if I as her mum keep telling her that she is too slow, too untidy, etc. Of course we tell her what she is good at and I know her teacher does too, but the negative sure must be overweighing this in her eyes. I will take your suggestions and brainstorm with her and maybe contact you with specifics later on. Thanks again and have a good day.

  51. 104

    Amy says

    Oh my, I needed this today! It’s a good thing my office is tucked away in the corner so no one can see me bawling right now. I have been beating myself up for months (years) over the fact that I’m too busy, have too much on my plate and am too OCD to let things go while my husband and son are left in my dust. I work full time while my husband works and goes to school full time, which leaves me to take care of our four year old son almost alone, along with my aging and handicap parents. I can’t do it all, but yet I have to because EVERYONE is relying on me. I’m trying to make good memories for my son, but I only have a few precious hours a day with him, which tend to be eaten up by my parents or my constant need for a clean house. We have been trying to have another baby for three years now, so add that to my list of failures of things I can’t get right. I feel like God knows I can’t handle another one right now and how would I have time for another one, when I can’t spend the time I want to with my son. I spend most of my waking time internally beating myself up while putting on a smile for everyone else get getting my tasks cheerfully done.

    Thank you for this post; I can spend ten minutes a day to push everything aside and hopefully that turns into more and more time!

  52. 105

    says

    Lovely article rachel.your articles do keep me motivated to be a better n patient mom.before i say “hurry up” to my child..i do think twice now.thankyou

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