About Hands Free

Five years ago I was in what I considered the best years of my life. A solid marriage to my college love, two beautiful, content young daughters–a work-at-home mom who beautifully juggled graduate school classes, family responsibilities, and volunteer activities for my church, community, and my daughters’ schools. I was constantly asked, “How do you do it? How do you do it all?” It was definitely a compliment in today’s productivity equals success, pressure-filled world. Yet, something began to gnaw at me. I was busier than I’d ever been, but was I happy? Wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying this time with my children?

This increasingly uncomfortable feeling led me to re-think the question that had once given me a tremendous source of pride. “How DO I do it all?” It was difficult to acknowledge the heartbreaking answer that I could no longer ignore. Well, I miss out. And it got worse. I miss out on life. And since I was being totally honest with myself, I acknowledged the cold hard truth: I miss out on what REALLY matters in life. And here is the part that caused teardrops to dampen the front of my shirt just like it does in a rainstorm: What I miss, I won’t ever get back. How’s that for a wake up call?

From that breakthrough, breakdown moment, I began seeing my phone in a new light. I saw laundry, dishes, and the need to keep things perfectly organized in a whole new way. I began seeing requests to serve on committees and chair events with brand new eyes.  I realized that the ability to respond within seconds to an email message and multi-task three things at once was maybe not such a great thing after all. Finally after years and years of over-commitment and meaningless information overload, I began to see those things for what they were: Daily Distractions. And with much regret, I realized I’d been holding on to “distractions” tighter than I had been to my own family, my own health, my own happiness, and my own things that really matter.

Tragically, my children had gone right along with my distracted life, not knowing they were missing the heart, the focus, and the company of their mom. They had no idea they were being given the leftovers, the worthless scraps of their stretched-too-thin mother.

But it didn’t have to be this way. Hence, the power of living “Hands Free.”

In the same vein as a distracted driver uses hands free equipment to maintain focus on driving, I decided to go “Hands Free” on life. For the past four and a half years, I have taken small steps to let go of “daily distraction” and place my focus on someone or something meaningful. The results have been profound. In fact, for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I am constantly trying to catch up. I don’t feel anxious or stressed. I am more patient, more spontaneous, and more connected with my family than I have ever been. I am witnessing and experiencing the simple, joyful things around me that I was too distracted to notice before. I am now free to grasp what really matters. And because this experience has been a life-changing one, I am sharing my journey as a Hands Free Mama with you.  Notice I say journey. A compulsive Type A, massive to-do list writin’ planner extraordinaire does not change overnight. I still have some letting go to do. But I am trying, and that counts for something. In fact, I would say that counts for something that matters.

This blog is for anyone who wants to re-think how he or she is living (or not living) life. It’s for anyone who wants to let go of daily distraction and perfection to embrace what really matters.

I hope you will join me as I capture my journey as a Hands Free Mama in photos and words. Come on … take my hand. After being tied up for so long, it’s finally free.


  1. 1


    Tears are falling. I see myself in every single sentence. And I am LOVING your use of the phrase “hands free”. I woke up today so “ugh” about the dirty floors and laundry. I WANT to work with my children on homework and do it mindfully and purposefully (less distracted). I let go of the dishes and did it…it was totally freeing, as you said.

    I’m off to sew. I’m off to sew for MYSELF. And for others. The floors can wait. I need to shuffle the list too. WRITE RACHEL! WRITE AWAY! These words just changed my day for the better!

    Indiana Lori

    • 2


      Thank you, Lori! I am so thankful to know this topic is relevant in your life, as well. I am encouraged by your response and feel that together we can start a Hands Free Revolution! And don’t worry, I will keep on writing. In fact, I can’t seem to stop now that I have started. This Hands Free thing is addicting!

      • 3

        Andréa says

        It’s so hard to live nowadays with the pressures from work, life, marriage, etc., that we tend to shout all the time because we are stressed. You really made me think about it. I have two kids: a boy that’s 8 and a girl that’s 4. I will try to change this attitude. Thank you for making me wake up! Being a mom, a teacher, a wife, and a housewife is not easy at all…

  2. 4

    Andrea Wesolowski says


    First of all, you have such an amazing gift for writing AND I always thought you were a wonderful mommy, so I will be catching each writing you are willing to share!! But already, from the few minutes I’ve had to explore your site, I have thought differently with the kids this afternoon. Thank you for that. In your thoughtfull nature, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the last line on this page saying “Come on….take my hand. After being tied up for so long, it’s finally free.” It made me lol, just because in that one sentence it describes it all! You have a cold Wisconsinite follower!

    • 5


      Thank you, Andrea! I take this as a major compliment coming from someone who is as Hands Free as they come. Ever since that day I met you in action at the park, I have always admired your presence and focus on the things that really matter in life! Thanks for being a follower! I am so blessed!

  3. 6

    Steve Martin says

    Good stuff. Remember when we all survived just fine without every 8 year old having a cell phone. I seemed to make it home for dinner most nights and don’t recall anything that I “missed” while I was focused on wiffleball. Life was slower then, but I’m sure our parents felt it was fast compared to their childhoods. Just last night, Eli asked Poppy, if they had color computers when he was a kid. Quite precious.

    Keep it up and thanks for the reminder to slow down and experience life not just watch it wiz by.

    Have a Merry Bama Christmas.

    • 7

      Steve's sis says

      Just saw your post, Steve, and I can imagine Eli asking that of Poppy. I remember spending allll day at the pool – and riding my bike there, and back. Oh how I miss the slow life.

  4. 8

    angela diconcilis says

    I to feel the same. i have been battling this demon for quit some time. today it is put into perspective. i thank you for your words and your time that so encouraged me to change my ways. i often feel angry about the issue of not enough time in the day. i would get angry at my husband because he would say just leave it for later.my response would be are there little elves that are coming to do it for me. he would never offer to help instead he was enjoying the moment. i guess hearing you say that i am missing moments that will never be there again really hit hard. i have a 13 year old son that really needs me now through all of his changes, sometimes not to talk from the other room but to just sit and be with him. i also have a soon to be 11 year old that is battling oms. she needs my patients and my kindness, my love , my understanding of what is going on in her world, not just what is left of me. from this point on i dedicate my self to be a hands free mom to the best of my capability. i will try my hardest to let all else go. by the way i am a major perfectionist so this is a very big deal for me. please pray for me!!!!!!

    • 9


      Hi Angela, I thank you for taking the time to share your feelings. I am blown away by how similar our thoughts are about distraction and the need to “get it all done.” It truly is difficult to start letting that go when you have been doing it that way for so long. But I have found that the rewards of stopping to enjoy the moment are so powerful that it has overcome the need to accomplish so much. I look forward to hearing your progress. Thank you for being by my side through this journey! And yes, you can definitely count on my prayers. Thank you!!!!

    • 10

      kandra says

      I want to thank you for posting your reply. I looked at the site often on for a while, yet I haven’t really changed very much. reading your reply made me think of my own children. my son is 13 and my daughter just turned 11. I couldn’t help but let out a gasp, as tears begin to fall because that’s me, my life that’s what I do to my children to my family… and it seems when they need me the most that’s why everything is beyond crazy.. my daughter wanted me to watch a movie last night, so as I sat there watching this movie I was on my phone, texting replying to emails surfing web. my daughter then replies” I don’t understand what is so important on moms phone, and my grown ups always have to be on them”? if that wasn’t an attention getter I don’t know what would be. so I turned off my phone, and watched this movie, laughing right along with them. I’m going to commit to try, to be hands free to slow down and take time to see what’s important. thank you for your post

  5. 11

    Cindy says

    I have the opposite problem… I have been completely disorganized for nearly my entire 42 years on this planet! The thing is…it has the same effect. It leaves me feeling like there is no time to do what really matters because I’m overwhelmed by everything that I *should* be doing. Recently I created a daily “schedule” (a very fluid schedule but a schedule nonetheless) and, believe it or not, that little bit of organization actually helped me feel more balanced and centered. I feel more relaxed and I’m able to enjoy my 16 month old daughter so much more now…in a house that doesn’t look like it went through a hurricane.

    Giving myself some structure has helped me be more present. It allows me to go “Hands Free” so I, too, can enjoy more of the things that matter in life.

    • 12

      Annette Lehmann says

      That us how I feel many days. I even make lists and try to be organized too! Thanks for this thought…. Being unorganized does have the burden of “all I should be doing”

      • 13


        Ah yes. I was so very disorganised & distracted that I could never finish anything and lived in utter chaos. Finding a bit of structure and building some useful habits freed me up a lot of time. I also have had the habit of taking on too much. I find it terribly uncomfortable if no one will volunteer to run the school bus, etc … so I felt compelled to do so. I drove myself to yelling and depression with oversubscribing myself. I really do recognise all this stuff 🙂

        • 14


          and I still REALLY need to free myself some time to concentrate on my children. I’m always with them and always in conversation, but I always seem to be also trying to pick up and do the basics just to feed everyone and keep chaos at bay.
          I’m 1 person trying to pick up for 5 who are not dropping stuff at the rate of 1 person of course! I keep thinking that if 5 people would just pick up behind them I could be more present.

  6. 15


    I just found your blog through Wendy at Wendy Can’t Cook and I am in love with your philosophy. I recently started to release a lot that was on my plate to focus 100% on my family. I am a new subscribe and I cannot wait to read more!

    • 16


      Welcome!!! You don’t know how much it means to hear these words and know you are joining me on your journey. I love Wendy and am so inspired by all the changes she has made in her life to be more Hands Free. Thank you for leaving me this message and letting me know you are here!!!

  7. 17


    I strive for this and remind myself and re-remind myself that this is the goal. One of my favorite quotes is “Normal Day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.” It just baffles me that I have to constantly and consciously try to keep it all scaled back. I loved reading your thoughts. It was a needed bit of inspiration. Thank you!

  8. 18

    amy says

    OH MY GOSH, how did i just find you since you are writing about ME?

    thank you for the grace that brought me to your page. this is my new life. this is my new year. letting go and letting happen. leaving that blackberry on silent and listening instead to the beauty of my kids.

    you will be the ONE blog i remind myself to read now. thank you…from a complete stranger.

    xoxo, amy

    • 19


      Amy, your words have come when I most needed to hear them. You have blessed me with your message today, and I am truly grateful you are joining me on this journey! Thank you, complete stranger. I hope to become friends!


    • 21


      I checked out your blog and I am jumping up and down for joy! I LOVE your concept and your delivery. Sometimes you just know when you are meant to intersect with someone … this is one of those moments. Thank you for finding me so I could find you!

  9. 23


    Thank YOU for this blog! I came across it from Awesomely Awake mom’s blog…and I’m glad I did. If you’re 18-months+ into being hands free, I am only just making steps to start it (even though I’ve always known I am on the phone TOO much!!). It’s an addiction really. I am glad to have found a virtual support group to let it go…for my son, and family. Thanks again.

  10. 24


    Hi Rachael,

    I came across your blog from a Freshly Pressed article on wordpress. Upon reading what your blog is about, and in particular your realization that led to this blog, all I can say is that I know EXACTLY what you mean and how you feel. I am not a mom yet, but I can relate. I do not like the way success is viewed in today’s society because it is a facade for what true success in one’s life really involves. I wish you the best on your journey to be hands free and I will definitely be checking out your blog more often. 🙂

  11. 25


    I have just discovered your blog through the creative girl blog. I so know what you are talking about. I have started my own blog to capture what we have achieved as a family this year. However I am more aware now that making my busy life work means sometimes although I am home when the boys get in from school (I work term time and school hours -but am not a teacher!) I am often busy on the computer. So from tomorrow I will ensure that when they get in i switch off the tech and concentrate on them. Hopefully I will then notice that they have homework or revision or music practice that needs doing and not get cross that they have sat down in front of the tv for an hour before I realise. Thank you x

    • 26


      Thank you for sharing your experience, Jo! I think awareness is key in letting go of distraction. Once I realized what my distraction was causing me to miss, it changed everything. From that awareness came CHOICE. And I try to choose what matters over distraction. I never regret it when I do. Thank you for taking time to read and comment. I am so glad you found your way through the Creative Girl blog! I love what she is doing over there with her 3-8 media free time! So inspiring.

  12. 27


    So glad I found your blog. I have always made an effort to avoid the phone or computer while I am spending time with my children. However, my downfall is that I have committed to so many volunteer activities that I feel pulled in many directions. After reading this today, I have decided to quit one of my commitments so I can have more time to focus on my children. Thank you!

  13. 28

    Melissa says

    Thank you! This is exactly what I need to be reminded of today, tomorrow and always! My beautiful daughters deserve a hands free mama. 🙂

    • 29


      Oh Melissa, your words are a gift to me. What you have expressed here is EXACTLY why I share my Hands Free journey with the world. Being “Hands Free” has been the most amazing gift to my life and to my children’s lives … there is no way I can keep it to myself. I am grateful to know you are here and have joined me on the journey to grasp what really matters! THANK YOU!!!!

  14. 30


    Thank you so much for this beautiful blog!! It is exactly what I needed to read. I struggle so much with trying to do it all and am completely overwhelmed at times just trying to keep up. I feel like I spend so much of my time trying to catch up on other people’s lives that I miss out on living my own. Shame on me! My girls are growing up before my very eyes and I don’t want to miss any more! Thank you for sharing these sweet revelations with us.

  15. 31


    I really appreciate the mission of your blog and can relate to it – your transparency is refreshing. Another way not to miss a childhood is to homeschool. I never thought I could do it, but here I am three years later, and now I can’t imagine not doing it! As much as technology can be a distraction from being present with our children, in the bigger picture, the elephant in the room is that parents are separated from their children for half (or more) of their waking hours. Availability and mindfulness are definitely important, but it doesn’t add up to the impact of actual time spent together – people often say it’s quality over quantity, but I say it’s both. And a home education engages the mind, the heart, the soul, and the body. It’s really a wholistic way of parenting and living.

    • 32


      Thank you so much, Literary Mom. I really appreciate you sharing your viewpoint. I enjoy hearing other people’s perspective–especially when it pertains to building closer connections to our children. I look forward to reading more about your experiences and gaining further insight on your blog. Thank you so much for taking time to share.

  16. 33

    Jennifer says

    Wow! This sounds like my life! I would love to take the steps that you have to make some changes in my life. I have 2 daughters and a wonderful husband. I make to-do list all the time, use my phone for everything and ALWAYS multi task. I keep thinking the next year will be calmer, or I will be more efficient. But, I think I found the solution with your blog. I need to stop over committing and put my phone down.

  17. 34


    I haven’t blogged much about homeschooling (too busy doing it or “blurbing” it on my Facebook page – ack!) but I hope to – it’s definitely fodder for my writing and I already have insights that I think will be inspiring/helpful to other moms, so Lord willing, this summer, I will make the time to share them. Thanks for your kindness and receptivity.

  18. 36

    Debbie says

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I’ve read several of your posts, and they’ve been very convicting. I don’t have a problem with phone use. I’d rather not be on the phone, although occasionally I have a friend who calls me and needs a listening ear. And I don’t have any of those newer electronic devices. What I do have is the computer. I’ve mentioned to my husband wishing we’d just drop our Internet provider. I know I spend way too much time online. I’ve known that for a long time. And I’ve been wanting to change it. But it hasn’t happened. Not yet. After reading these posts, I decided to ask my oldest how he felt about my time spent online. He said it feels like I’m on the computer about 8 hours a day and there ought to be more to life than that. Ouch. This has got to change.

    • 37


      Thank you for taking time to share, Debbie. I really appreciate your honesty and desire to change. How brave of you to ask your son. Children will tell it like it is and from their brutal honesty, new choices and meaningful change can occur. I hope you will keep me posted on your progress. I am truly grateful you are here.

  19. 38


    so I’m reading this, nodding to myself, (yet actually rubbing my 5 year olds back at the same time) is that ok?! haha
    actually HAVe to get off as another child AND the dog has joined my little computer chair. Not sighing, just getting back to the important ones.
    will be back

    • 39


      Oh yes! Please come back, Widge. So happy to know you found me and the message has touched you. And I am especially glad you chose the important ones. This post will always be here.

  20. 40

    Rebecca says

    Good job…. now don’t spend too much time on the blog!

    Thank you for sharing this; it’s a great reminder.

  21. 41

    Kelly Rae says

    I tried emailing you this, but it came back as undeliverable when I tried to send it to the email you have under your “Contact Me” tab so I will just post it here:

    My friend recently sent me a link to your post titled, “The Children Have Spoken”. She sent it to me because of my new found freedom from Facebook. Yes, I broke up with facebook and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy! I was just so tired of needing to know everything about everyone. Isn’t it weird how people offer every piece of themselves up on a silver platter for the world? Once you start getting that kind of information about people, it’s addicting. I hate the way some people use facebook to pit people against each other. Use it to indirectly call people out on their flaws. Use it to fish for compliments and “likes”. Use it to publicly berate their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/
    wife. It’s sick. I was tired of the “In a relationship, and it’s complicated” relationship status changes. Really? I want to type out in all caps “YOU MEAN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MAN/WOMAN YOU HAVE A BABY WITH ISN’T ALL ROSES AND KISSES AND DATES! THAT’S JUST SHOCKING!!!” Facebook is changing people and not for the better. Now even if that person just changed their status because they are a rash person who didn’t think out the repercussions of changing their relationship status to that, they can’t take it back. Their closest friends, their not so closest friends, their family, possibly their co-workers, their mutual friends, and maybe even some people they have never even met before know that they just had a fight with their significant other. Even if they didn’t spill every detail of what happened, it’s out there. They just left the door WIDE open for rumors to fly, and you know they will. I use to be able to ignore that stuff, but I can really feel it changing my mindset about people. I’m a much more cynical person than I was before Facebook. People I once respected and thought highly of suddenly have this “other” side that I can’t wrap my brain around…..It’s weird! We all have our moments and that other side to ourselves, but there are no boundaries anymore. Certain words or actions are only meant for a certain audience depending on a trust/comfort/love level, but with facebook there are no filters I guess. So, in light of all that coupled with the fact that it was eating up my time like you wouldn’t believe, I have deleted my facebook. I work from home, so I can get on FB anytime I’d like. Maybe it wouldn’t of had to come to this if I went to a job where I couldn’t be on it at all. It has been a week since I deleted it. I won’t lie, the first two days, I felt I had made a big mistake. I was actually having withdrawals. BUT On the third day, I knew that my decision was the right one for my family. My 2 year-old learned 8 new words in just that short amount of time, and counted to 12. That was a proud mommy moment and I’m still riding that high!! Wow! I didn’t know my husband and I could get much closer, because we have a great relationship as it is, but in a week I feel so on the same page with him, it’s insane! He told me yesterday, “You are so much more fun without facebook!” I don’t think everyone should go out and delete their facebook, it was just what was right for myself and my family! I’m having full out conversations with people again and actually am having to make an effort at my relationships in my life, it feels like I’m living again! I have found another outlet, blogging, though I’m no good at it. LOL It’s embarrassing to me, but I’m trying it out, mostly for the family that I can’t be “friends” with on facebook anymore. Anyway, I just wanted to share with you how I’m truly chipping away at the distractions in my life, and I love it and I can completely relate. I don’t have a smartphone, so that won’t be a problem! lol By the time I get one of those, I’m fairly certain everyone else will have hover phones….

    Thanks for putting it all out there, because some people do need a wake up call, it’s up to them to answer though! You’re doing a good thing here. Sorry for the novel, I just felt compelled to tell you that. 🙂

  22. 42

    New Mommy says

    Wow! This blog was forwarded along to me from another mommy and it came RIGHT ON TIME!!! Lately, I have been feeling overly stressed about trying to keep up with everything and from reading your blog, it empowers me to be OK with not sweating the small stuff. It’s much more important to spend time on my children and my family and let everything else become secondary. Thanks for re-enforcing the most important things in life and thank you for this blog. I too am going to make the commitment to being hands-free!

  23. 43

    Carrie in Florida says

    Eversince I came across your blog through a re-post on FB from a JOY fm radio DJ about “how to be a hands free mama” yesterday, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! I am guilty! Guilty of being attached to my iPhone! I brag about how much I love my phone!

    But just this morning, my 6 year old daughter timidly asked me to put her hair in pony tails and I was in the middle of blow drying my hair, getting ready to go to work. As I stopped doing my hair and did her hair, I didn’t realize until later that that was a moment. That I wasn’t truly present in, I was distracted and was just going through the motions.

    Then, about a week ago my 15 year old son was doing a timeline project of his life for school and he jokingly asked “Mom, when did Facebook get invented?” I said that I thought it was 2006, but I didn’t start using it until 2009. He jokingly continued and said “cause I can put that is when I lost my mother…” OUCH!!! At that time I brushed that off as not true! But now, my stomach aches at the truth behind that statement. It makes me sad.

    I have four kids, ages 15 to 3, work full time, and I am on my phone (escaping) more than I am not. Thank you for sharing your experience and making this mama open her eyes to the life I am missing out on! I started today. I actually went to lunch with my husband and put my phone in my purse and looked my husband in the eye and talked with him!

  24. 44

    Maribel says

    The tears are building up as I am writing this. I am a stay at home mom of 3 wonderful children, and this is a battle I have been fighting since my first was born, 4 years ago. I find myself constantly saying no to my children because I have to clean, or work on the computer. In fact my oldest recently mentioned that I am always cleaning. I brushed it off, but in my heart I know she’s right. I have yet to find the perfect balance of keeping the house together, and enjoying my children’s childhood with them. I pray that this website will help me. I don’t my children to look back and say that what they remember most about their childhood is that their mom was always cleaning. Thank you for this wonderful site.

  25. 45


    This is beautiful. As the mom of lots of special needs kiddos, it is a constant struggle to find that delicate balance of being present for the kids, keeping up with the house and day-t0-day “stuff,” nurturing my marriage, and finding a bit of time for me! I have found that all too often the computer or phone gets in the way of the balance far more than it ever should. Your blog is just wonderful and was a good wake-up call for me today– thank you!!

  26. 47


    This is amazing…I needed to read this…I cannot wait to read your work and learn with and from
    You…God has blessed you with a special gift to help us all….I believe life is truly a journey and this is something that seems hard to balance and you’ve got me
    Really thinking now…your guidance will
    Make a difference.
    Thank you so

  27. 48


    Thank you for committing to this mission. I have been a workaholic for 10+ years. I now have a 6 year old daughter and 7 month old twins. I’m winding down my career with one final project and will be resigning in July. When I am clear minded, I am thrilled that I will be able to simply be Mom. On other days, I have a lack of faith and wonder if I shouldn’t network for the next project. God has been so faithful to place daily reminders about the true desires of my heart. Today, you have been that reminder. I need to be hands free- letting go- leaving my hands open to squeeze my kiddos and accept the better life that God intends for all of us.

  28. 49

    Denise Nimmo says

    Recently, I heard someone say, Multitasking is not necessarily a good thing. Many things get done; nothing is done really well. We need to take time to just sit and think.

  29. 50

    Karen says

    I have three children, the oldest just graduated from highschool and the youngest will begin 5th grade in the fall. I few years back I had the same revelation when I began to wonder what my children’s memories of their childhood and of me would be…would they say “my mom was always stressed out about the house, my mom was always cleaning, my mom was always at a meeting, my mom was always on the phone, or my mom always made sure we had something to do, but never did anything with us..” Instead, what I want their memories to be include, “my mom used to laugh with us so hard she cried, my mom would make chore time fun, my mom colored and painted and did fun crafts with us, my mom was always there to really listen to me. I always felt like I was my mom’s top priority. I was proud of the way my mom was able to balance volunteering/career and our family. I want to be just like my mom…”
    Whenever I think of these things it really helps me to make choices to be hands free and hands on. And the little old ladies are so wise about them being gone too quickly…my son leaves for college next month.

  30. 54


    Love that you are guiding so many to “living in the present” – one of my favorite books is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. There is nothing better we can do for our children than be in the present with them.
    Thanks for using your time so wisely.

  31. 56

    cindy c says

    This is extraordinarily life changing in todays world…. sad that the simple things in life such a giggle or a smile arent at the fore front for all (me included)… time to change… 🙂

  32. 57

    Sascha says

    Dear Rachel,
    You are such a gifted writer…and truly inspirational! A colleague posted your story about the boy you ran (and ran and ran) after as a teacher. I read this last night and the timing was so perfect – after a week of bursting into tears several times when faced with the challenges of working in Special Education, it was exactly the bit of hope and the different perspective that I needed. I feel like spending my weekend reading through your archives…in fact I might just do that! Your writing is just beautiful and leaves me in tears – in a much happier way!

    What you are doing is wonderful…THANK YOU and BLESS YOU!!!

    I have been aware of this need to go ‘hands free’ in my life for perhaps a couple of years. At the moment I just feel truly exhausted and know I need to make some changes. Reading your blog right now – what fortunate timing!! I think I will in fact give myself permission to leave the mountains of paperwork that never seem to get finished and go home….and rest….and then think about how I really want to be spending time on a studio space I have. It’s called Blossom Art Space and it’s tucked away in a beautiful regional area of South Australia…. My plans for this space keeps getting put on the back-burner due to ‘no time’ I would like to be offering this space to others to be creative, to slow down, to connect with each other and themselves. I think the change needed for me to kick-start my studio space is MORE HANDS-FREE TIME! I have a three-day weekend ahead of me and your writing is the catalyst I very much needed to do something differently – starting NOW!! I will most definitely be spreading your hands-free revolution with others. Thank you so much once again, All the Best, Sascha XO

    • 58


      What a gift you have given me, Sascha! To know Kyle’s story touched the life of a fellow special education teacher and provided you with a ray of light means a great deal to me. I believe special education teachers are true angels. I am certain you have your own inspiring stories of the power of presence, whether you realize it or not.

      To know you would like to read my archives is also a gift. I am currently writing my “Hands Free” book which contains some of my older posts and new stories, as well. It is times like these that I wish it were complete and I could send you a copy immediately! It was my dream to provide a step by step guide for those wanting to transform a distracted life into one of meaningful connection and joy. You have fueled my writing, and I know I will knock out a good portion of it today!

      I am thrilled to hear your plans. It sounds like you know exactly what you need to do to become Hands Free and live the life you imagine. I truly hope you don’t put off this beautiful life ONE MORE DAY. The plans for your studio space sounds lovely. As a former special ed teacher, I know you need to step back and take time to decompress from the stresses of your job. Your creative space sounds like just the place. Please keep me posted! I am so touched by this message today and will be sending many positive thoughts to you, my friend. So happy to have you along on this journey!


      • 59

        Sascha says

        Rachel, your writing always makes me cry…
        I missed this reply of yours earlier…thank you so much. It is words like yours that are the little bit of encouragement that I need to not give up on dreams that seem so worthwhile but very challenging to make them real. A friend through facebook (I only know her through my local community/facebook) only last night enquired about whether my art classes were running yet at my studio. She has a daughter who is adopted and suffers from high levels of anxiety, trauma and loss but loves art and craft. At first I replied that my classes are not running yet and told her about a nearby studio…but then my heart just went ‘Wait! I have to do something!’ I will keep you posted about Blossom Art Space 🙂 I have a facebook page for Blossom if you would like to see photos – it does need to be updated & I will do this in the upcoming school holidays – one week away. Once again, I can’t thank you enough for your words of inspiration – for people like me they can transform a sense of being quite alone in a personal journey – into believing again in something very close to my heart xx

        • 60


          Oh Sascha! Blossom Art Space!!! What a beautiful name for your classes/studio. I cannot WAIT to go like it on FB. You know I will be cheering you on every step of the way. I can just feel it–some REALLY beautiful things are going to happen .. have ALREADY happened … because of your “letting go to live” journey. You are SO not alone, my friend. Thank you for coming back to tell me!!!!

  33. 62



    this is so inspiring worldwide,
    i am a feminist activist mom of 4 and i often fall into the distraction routine, this came just in time for me to reconsider my daily tasks and slowly one day at a time free my time for more important things…And this gave me more incentive to reactivate my blog.

    thank you and great initiative,

    Yerevan, Armenia

    • 63


      Wow! Lara, thank you for letting me know. This seems amazing to me — here you are sending me this beautiful message of love and encouragement from Armenia. I am so grateful to know you are here, joining me on this life-changing, letting go journey! Welcome, friend! And let me know if you get your blog up and running. I would love to visit!

  34. 65

    Jen says

    I’ve been following you on Facebook for a while but hadn’t really thought about what “Hands Free” meant. We are parents to a 9 month old (today!) and have been struggling with this, too many distractions, too many “should-do’s”, cell phone, etc. I followed a link on Facebook this morning and started reading and am trying not to cry here at work! So thank you for this blog. I will be reading more. xoxo

  35. 67

    Melissa says

    The director of my son’s preschool mentioned your blog in her monthly newsletter and I’m glad she did. I, like you; have a type A personality and I do find that I am frequently distracted by my “to-do” list. Your blog is a quiet reminder for me to focus what’s most important in my life; not my laundry or the dirty dishes, but my two young children! THANK YOU!

  36. 68


    Absolutely amazing. Just found your site. What you say and the journey you are on so resonates with my own — being a mindful mama to two little ones, being about delight and compassion and community in our everyday lives. Yes, it is a JOURNEY — I sure haven’t “arrived” but I am present and loving the tiniest of moments in my life as best and imperfectly as a mama can. Many blessings to you, Lisa

    • 69


      Oh Lisa, what a great comfort it is to me to know you are out there! I just love that we connected today via your “presence” post. It is so wonderful to know you are imperfectly striving to grasp the precious moments in life, too. So glad we can make our way on this journey together. Thank you for taking the time to visit, read, and write such a lovely comment!

  37. 70


    Wow! Your site and facebook profile were just shared with my by a friend, and I have to say that it came at the right time! There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve created a business about peace, love and laughter, but can’t find the time to do any of the 3 with your family and friends. I look forward to following you on your journey and being inspired to live hands free! Thank you for your light!

    • 71


      WELCOME and thank you, Kyla! You are in good company here. Here it’s about supporting one another in a rushed, distracted, pressure-filled world — not expecting anyone to be perfect — just striving to grasp as many precious moments as we can. I look forward to checking out your site — it sounds beautiful!

  38. 72


    I am speechless. I found myself in a very dark and deep pit and the end of this year. And I had no idea I was not alone. Thank you so much for this. I feel like I can get out of that pit and put my girls before my to do lists. Maybe I just needed the permission. A huge weight has been lifted. I am totally ruled my list of things to do. And I am constantly told, “You do so much!” And yes I always thought that was compliment too. But wow when I read what that awakened in you, it was like being hit over the head with a two by four. That’s exactly it. I miss out. I. Miss. Out. It’s not too late. Starting now I will being my journey of being hands free. 🙂 And I have this feeling that when I let go, the priorities that really matter will rise to the top. Thank you.

    • 73


      This is really amazing and touching to know that our paths have crossed and that you find hope in my words. This is exactly why I want to share my journey — so that people like you know there is HOPE … that there is a better way to live. I get chills when I read your words: “It is not too late. Starting now I will begin my journey of being Hands Free.” The day I said those words to myself, my life changed. I am never going back to the way it was, and I know you will find meaningful and fulfillment, too. I am grateful you have joined me! Please keep me posted on your progress. I see a beautiful future ahead!

  39. 74

    Amanda P says

    I’m not alone! Thank you so much for sharing. I have been moving in this direction, and your blog confirms that I’m doing the right thing. My beautiful five month old baby girl deserves my full attention. Instead of logging onto facebook, I read to her, I play in the floor with her, we snuggle and watch movies, enjoy baby talk and much more. I’ve even been able to catch up on her baby book! Making memories, recording them and enjoying life. Best wishes to everyone!

  40. 75

    Vicki says

    Oh my gosh! You are writing my life!!! My son recently turned 4 and I was looking back at pictures and realized that I had missed so much of those first years because I was worried, stressed, anxious, nervous, etc. He missed out on so much of me, of my heart, of my love, of having just plain calm around him. Please know you are not alone in your journey – I am right here with you because I share the same struggles. Please know that you have already enriched my life and I have only read 3 posts. Please don’t stop writing !!!

  41. 77

    Laura says

    Well this is AWESOME, and beautiful, and I love it. Your description of your life in this post reminds me so much not of myself, but of my mother. She has always crammed in and tried to juggle FAR too much. She still does. Although, we certainly all can let the distractions, and worries, of daily life steal our joy sometimes, if we’re not conscious of those things. I’ve been enjoying reading your blogs today, thanks to a share from Janet Lansbury, on Facebook. 🙂

  42. 79


    I love this new attitude- and am making a promise to myself that I will adopt a similar one. We only get to have our children for such a short period of time- why do we waste it? Nothing is more important than them- that’s why we had kids in the first place. Thank you for this wake up call!

  43. 82

    Sarah says

    Thank you, your site made me cry, it is what I have been searching for. I like your writing and want to say thank you for sharing your thoughts with other mamas out there.

  44. 83

    Monica says

    This has been very powerful! Thank you so much! I have been thinking lately about how ‘addicted’ I am to my phone and considered getting rid of my smart phone all together. I am starting right now being hands free!!

  45. 84


    I just found your blog, and I want to say thank you! It’s as if you are pulling the thoughts out of my brain and putting them down on paper. I determined to make 2013 my own year to become more connected with life and the people and things that really matter to me, so to have your blog as part of that, knowing that the journey is possible and rewarding and that I’m not alone, is wonderful.

  46. 85

    Carie Waters says

    Very interesing and thought provoking indeed. Lent is coming up, and although I’m 36, I still give something up each year as if I were back in Catholic School. This year I am going to give up Facebook. I am an avid “Facebooker” but have noticed many negative posts, friends arguing back and forth, and the best one – friends not bothering to connect in real life, but if you delete them from your page they explode with rage! I hope by deactivating my account for 6 weeks, I can spend more time living in the “Three dimensional universe” and enjoy the little things I know are floating past me each day as I check my newsfeed….like watching my baby as she takes a bottle…Thank you for the blog.

  47. 86

    Rinna says

    I’ve recently come across your blog and have found myself nodding along to so many things that you say. In fact, I wrote my 3 kids love notes during my lunch break at work today. Can’t wait to read it to them tonight! But before I get too deep in the blog, I just have to ask you: Do you think that a Hands Free Life can still work with a rewarding career? I have a career I really enjoy (though not as much as my family!) and frankly don’t have the option not to work even if I did want to stay home. There must be a way to have both – be present and connected when you are with your children but also be present and connected when you are at work. Isn’t there??

    • 87


      Hi Rinna, first of all WELCOME! And second of all, yes! I am continually amazed at the differing backgrounds of the people who have made living “Hands Free” the practice of their life. Living HF is for anyone who wants to put healthy boundaries between technology and life. It’s for anyone who wants to reject unrealistic societal pressures to be perfect. It’s for anyone who wants to create their own standards of “success.” And finally, living HF is for anyone who wants to grasp the moments that matter with the people who matter most.

      Here are some posts that might answer your question better than I can here …

      What a Hands Free Summer Looks Like (this post has been viewed 500,000 times …. it speaks to people from all different occupations and backgrounds) http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/05/16/what-a-hands-free-summer-looks-like/

      The Year of Ordinary Achievement: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2013/01/02/a-year-of-ordinary-achievement/

      So glad you are here, Rinna!

  48. 88

    Elizabeth says

    These words could not have come at a better time for me. As a new mom, in a new career, moving cross country, pursuing a masters degree, and trying to handle everything around the house for her hubby.. to-do lists and organization have become a pin point for my daily life. I used to be “hands-free”. When I was young and vulnerable. Even though I am still young that feeling became scary because I was afraid of missing something. I was afraid of not doing enough. Not being enough. I look forward to reading more of your posts and getting back in touch with that part of me that has become so distant.

    Thank you.

    • 89

      Mel says

      Precisely how I feel too. It’s amazing how we all walk through this life feeling the same things, yet many of us feel like we’re the only ones who are dealing with these issues UNTIL we’re lucky enough to stumble onto a blog like this & realize we are so not alone. I also used to be pretty hands free. Now? Not so much. I’m glad others are on this journey with me. 🙂

  49. 92


    I feel like I could have written this. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to why I feel stressed and anxious all the time, and came to the conclusion that it’s because I spend too much time on my devices and to do lists and not enough on the things that truly matter. Beautiful, and beautifully mundane, moments are passing me by. Then I found your blog and said – ah ha! Exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.

    • 93


      Welcome, Carol! I am grateful to know my experience resonated with you. There is hope! Two and a half years of striving for a “Hands Free” life has made an incredible difference in my relationships and my personal well-being. I know there is hope for you, too. Please come here for encouragement any time. I am happy to answer questions and encourage you in any way. Thanks for letting me know you are here!

  50. 94

    Mel says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For writing this blog. I just found you a few weeks ago & I love every word. You have an amazing gift for putting everything into words. I also found The Orange Rhino blog the same week I found yours & as my mom would say, “That was a God thing”. He knows me thoroughly that’s for sure because He led me very “accidentally” (from my perspective) to both your blogs just when I needed them most. I can’t wait to be able to sit down & start reading through from the beginning. 🙂

  51. 96

    Sheena says

    Thank you for capturing everything I have been feeling into words I can not find. I am inspired and grateful! It’s nice to know I am not alone too! I am joining the “hands free” movement!

  52. 98


    Simply awesome… stumbled on to this by the “yelling” post a friend shared on Facebook. Would like to incorporate your lead into a new way of thinking & reacting… or rather, acting.

  53. 99


    A reader recently nominated me for an “award,” (the blogging world makes me giggle sometimes). I know you probably don’t “need” this sort of thing, but part of accepting the award involved nominating others, so of course, I nominated you and your beautiful writing. Do with it what you will, but if nothing else, know that I am glad I found you and your blog 🙂

  54. 100

    Junepoppies says


    I happened across your blog today and am so grateful I did. I have one little one in my life. He is my everything. Recently I have noticed non-essential things creeping in and taking priority. I have started to cut out many of those things–because I know the blessing it can and will be. How I am striving to be hands free with him. To more fully show him his worth. It will be a blessing to him. To us. To our family.

    Thank you for putting your thoughts into words. And doing so in a way that is encouraging and not discouraging. So grateful you are choosing to share this God-given talent with us.

    I currently read no blogs consistently. Yours’ I will. It will be time invested wisely. Time invested in my family to help gain (and maintain) the perspective I so desire. And in turn I hope that as my little one grows, he will learn what is truly of import in this life.

    I am a hopeful person, but your words give me more hope for me, for my little boy and for our family.

    Thank you,
    One happy (and now more hopeful) momma

  55. 101

    Beverly S says

    I wish I’d read this 40 years ago when my older daughter was a toddler. There are 2 things I wish I could do over. First, I tried to be super woman and was on the go all the time. I was over-committed and stressed out, which made me so irritated with my children. Second, I was so harsh in how I spoke to and reacted to my girls, and later even my grandchildren. I was the queen of the exasperated sigh and shame-inflicting glare.

    I applaud you for realizing the importance of a hands-free life and for sharing your journey.

  56. 102

    April-Indiana says

    I came across your article on “yelling” because one of my FB friends posted it. It immediately caught my attention and I decided to read it (I never take the time for these things). While sitting a my desk at work in tears, I realized that this article as well as others (I can’t wait to read more) was God speaking to me through you. Thank you so much for your insight and wisdom on this. I needed to hear it and like yourself, I am going to committ to make a change, one step at a time. We only have one chance to create memories with our children (I am a mother of three, ages, 11,7, and 3). Thank you, thank you, thank you! Keep writing, you have a special gift!

  57. 103

    Melissa says

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write about such personal things. I read your post about yelling and immediately reposted it to share with everyone I knew. I felt like you wrote that just for me! My husband read it, and every post you have written before I even got home from work. Your stories are eye opening and will be life changing to so many. I am looking forward to reading your next post!

  58. 104

    Alyson says

    I also came across this blog because two of my friends had shared it on facebook. I am so grateful they did. I have been struggling with feelings of not giving my children and my husband my best, being stressed, anxious, yelling, etc. I am so excited to change! I am grateful for this blog to start me on this journey to being a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, etc. Thank you!

  59. 106


    So glad I stumbled on this blog. Good stuff. I’, not a mom, but I am looking forward to the day when I am. I am grateful for people like you who share their stories, so that people like me can learn from it and hopefully walk into motherhood with eyes open. I am that person who tries to juggle everything and be superwoman. I kept saying to myself, “That’s me! I do that too!” as I read this. I’m glad that I am learning now that my Type A tendencies could someday negatively effect my family and children. I look forward to keeping up with your blog! 🙂

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    anne marie ament says

    as a mom to three young children and i am young myself. i just came across your blog and have been going through a hard time with our youngest being possibly autistic <3

  61. 108

    Rebecca says

    I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. Everything you’ve said is what I’m feeling. I’m ready to make some changes in my life. My daughters who I love more than anything deserve more than the scraps I’ve been giving them. Thank you for summing up what I feel. I look forward to growing and reading your blog along the way.

  62. 109

    Leah says

    Wow! Just when I thought I was going crazy, that I may need anger management, or anxiety medication, I stumbled upon this; and this has shone a light on my world. I’m on the verge of tears right now knowing I am NOT the only one feeling this way – that it is the way of the world to feel pulled in every direction, and that your children become part of your “to-do list” instead of the joy(s) of your life. I constantly feel like I’m telling them to hold on for a second so I can complete one task before I can spend time with them, when all they want to do is show me the “really cool thing they just made up”…….why am I putting them 22nd on my list of daily things to complete, when all of my attention and focus should be them until they are fast asleep? How quickly these years go by, and I’m so afraid I will look back and will only remember how stressed out I was. I fear I will forget what it sounds like to have little voices calling out “mommy, look at this!!!!” My husband is always telling me to live in the moment, and take everything in, and I truly do not know how to do that, nothing is absorbing, since all I can think about is the next item on my laundry list of chores to do (chores as in appointments, work, cleaning, soccer, skating, cooking, shopping). It feels a bit robotic, and forced my life, and this is what I’ve ALWAYS wanted, and to boot, I’m at home with a family business that has been handed to me to take over, and this should leave me with an overabundance of joy each and everyday that this is my life. Instead, I feel run down, exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed, and it’s because of all the distractions that I have fogging my ability to soak up every moment with my little ones (4.5 year old boy, and 10 month old girl). A friend once told me, “it’s okay to leave the house, your a good mom if your house is a mess – you’re with your kids”. Each day is different, your children will say or do something that is truly remarkable, and guess what, the dirty floors, laundry, dishes, cooking will ALWAYS need to get done, and it will always work out, but what your kids say and do will change in the blink of an eye, so make them the top of your to-do list. This is my new manifesto of motherhood, and I am so relieved to know that I have a herd of mothers alongside me that are in this same boat.

  63. 110

    Resentful child says

    I’ve been crying while going through your blog. I wish my mom would read this. I am now in my late twenties and grew up with my mom being constantly involved in over socializing or over working, or over cleaning or basically anything besides spending quality time with me. Even now as I’m older she is newly addicted to Facebook and finding old school friends and skyping with them. Some days growing up I honestly felt like my mom would rather do anything besides talk or be around me. It lead to a hostile atmosphere and a lot of resentment because I feel like I grew up walking on eggshells around her afraid of the next thing I’d accidentally say or do to unleash her verbal anger on me.
    I do applaud all you women out there trying to make a change for the better. I hope when I become a mother someday I pray that I will have it in me to give my children the time that my mom couldn’t find for me. God bless you for sharing this.

  64. 111

    Maria says

    HI Rachel,
    I found your article on a community group in New Zealand, and read your article about Yelling last nigh, this is a battle I have been trying to win, and it was nice to read your words of wisdom. I have saved your website as one of my favourites. I have just spend some time talking and listening to my daughter this morning, you have inspired me to be less rushed, and to yell less.
    Thank you for writing in such a lovely way that inspires and does not criticise.
    You are truely making a difference in this world.

  65. 112

    Melissa L Skinner says

    You are so gifted with your writing! Tears filled my eyes!!!! It was as if I was reading something I wrote! Thank you for having the courage to share what so many of us are feeling!!!!

  66. 113

    Jenny says

    This is just what I need to hear! Thank you so much for putting into words what many of us can’t, but are feeling just like you. ❤❤❤

  67. 114

    Esther says

    I am confused by what you mean by “hands free.” Did you quit your job? Are you at SAHM now? Do you say no to all volunteering?

  68. 115

    V says

    New follower here 🙂 Amazing insight!! Thank you for your vulnerability and truth, it has hit my heart in a great way and I’m sure many others. Thank you for being obedient to God’s call for you! Such an encouragement!

  69. 116

    Lola says

    I truly believe that God works in mysterious ways. After a hard conversation with my husband last night about how I am feeling over-committed, overwhelmed, and anxious, I came across this blog today about your article on saying “I love to … ” and low and behold, it hit home in all the right areas. Thank you for taking the time in your hands free journey to write about it and let others in on your experience and help to open more eyes to living a life that focuses on the important matters.

  70. 117

    Donna says

    Thank you for your blog. I wish I had thought like this when my children were younger, but it’s never too late to start. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. We need so much more of that in this world. You are a blessing.

  71. 118

    Jen says

    I love this whole idea! You’ve described me so well – my personality AND my wants. I’m going to try this, starting NOW! Thank you for this wonderful idea!

  72. 119


    Wow, wow, wow. I’m sure you’ve heard it before from many others, but I believe we may be knit from very much the same cloth. At least the realizations and proverbial slap upside the head when it comes to stretching oneself too thin. As a fellow type A, who very easily subscribed to the American virtue of busyness and “productivity”, I am now humbled. Motherhood humbled me more than I ever thought it could. The power to say no to requests and things that I typically felt I should say yes to has brought more balance and groundedness to my family and relationships. It is a work in progress – you say that so well. I am happy to have stumbled across your site and look forward to reading more and sharing in this journey. Thank you.

    • 120


      Thank you, Kat. I appreciate hearing your story. I think we are so much stronger when we can share our struggles with one another. I am grateful to know you are sharing this journey with me!

  73. 121

    Jill Greene says

    I feel so blessed and relieved to find your blog and all the wonderful comments at this very moment. I have a wonderful life – husband, two kids, great job – but am missing the joy by all the multi-tasking, overachieving, list-making and stressing. Thank you so much for writing and I look forward to every post.

  74. 122


    I just wanted to say Thank you for this site! You have become a source of daily inspiration in my house. Because of handsfreemama.com my husband and I have taken a massive step away from all of the daily distractions that without us even realizing it, were causing us to miss our children growing up around us. I feel so blessed to have found this when my children are only 2, 4 & 5. Without it, I wonder how long it would have taken four our eyes to be opened to all the amazing things going on around us that we were only “half” present for.
    Not only is it making positive changes in our relationship with our children, but it’s flowing over into our marital relationship and the relationships with friends and family as well.
    So thank you for sharing your story and your journey with us. We are so excited to be on this journey not only with you, but because of you!
    Thank you for inspiring us to take back our lives!

  75. 123

    Lorraine says


    I just want to say thank you for sharing your journey. I’m not a mom yet, my husband and I are just now trying to get pregnant, but I do work with children and have many nieces and nephews. Your stories are inspirational and brave and almost always make me cry. They are tears of joy and love and understanding, and I find myself thinking of you and your journey A LOT. The other day, I checked my phone at a stoplight… I thought of you and how checking my phone in that instant just wasn’t worth it. You inspire me to become the parent that I want to be from the beginning. I so look forward to each and every one of your posts. I can’t wait to see what kind of people my future children turn out to be and I look forward to all that they will have to teach me. Thank you for being brave and sharing your journey even when it’s hard.

  76. 124


    Rachel – every page of your site I read I feel like we are the same person. Everything you have described on this page is exactly what has been going on in my head for the last year and a half.
    And for me – it took the death of my wonderful mother to realize how much I am missing by being so caught up in crap that does not matter.
    I have mourned terribly the last year and a half, and have not been myself even longer as I was her main care giver. I have neglected everything – myself, my kids, my husband, my LIFE. I feel it is time to stop the “mourning” and move back to a life of happiness I have not known in a very long time. Not that I won’t miss her, but to move on to the part where I lovingly remember and apply everything she taught me – but first, I need to really pay attention to WHAT MATTERS. Thank you for the wake up call and the slap in the face. I believe today was the day I was meant to find you.

    • 125


      Hi Danelle, it has been wonderful to connect with you via email. It has taken me a little time to go through all the comments, but I am reading each one with tears in my eyes. I am so touched to know my posts and my mission are helping people like you. I am so sorry about the loss of your mom. I can only imagine how that would throw one’s life out of kilter. I am filled with joy to know that you feel a newfound sense of purpose and are motivated to come back to what matters. I look forward to sharing this journey with you, friend.

  77. 126


    This post is changing my life. I can feel it. I am currently a stay at home mom- but full time employed! Its a change I made as I realized I was missing out on my children. The problem is that working from home didn’t fix the problem, it merely complicated it. I’m trying how to get my work done and not have my kids feel like I am pushing them off until it is done. This blog is giving me SO much to think about. Maybe being ‘hands-free’ in my context means I can’t literally do it all…I’m contemplating hiring a housekeeper and even a local college student to help run errands. Now, don’t get me wrong- money DOES NOT grow on trees for my family, but I need to find ways to enjoy the moments that count, and our family needs the extra income to live in such an expensive place like Southern California. This blog inspired a conversation with my husband, as to how much longer I need to continue working before his salary and work will cover the needs of our family. Additionally, you led me to great resources such as Simple Family living blogs and books… THANK YOU. I can tell I’m starting on a heart-led journey toward a different end!

    Bless you, and please keep writing!


    • 127


      Thank you, Danielle! I am so grateful to know everything you so honestly shared here with me! Having awareness and realizing there are small changes we can make within our day that to help us let go of distraction and grasp what really matters are so important and life-changing. You have already made some significant steps by just thinking about these things. I am grateful that you are walking along side me on this journey!

  78. 128

    Stephanie Longobardo says

    I love how you are living life, Rachel!! I want to copy/paste the third to last paragraph and tape it to every mirror and window I own as a reminder of how I should be prioritizing things in my life! Feeling anxious and stressed is the pits I tell ya! I want to be living spontaneously while enjoying and loving my family more each day! I am thankful for Jesus in my life, but I understand I still need to make some changes. Thanks for being such an encourager and beautiful writer! God bless you!

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    In reading this article, it give me the chance to look back at my life. I was the mom worked everyday, did the football practices with the kids, there was band practice also tumbling classes, I was all over map. Including all the military moves we had to incur, in different part’s of the world including the USA. Babysitting for different friends, I would always hear my friends say you do it all. Even though I was married for the second time. Waking up one I asked my self where my time, what you done for yourself. I was a mom, a working wife and the stuff that all the people in my house benefitted from, nothing to show that I had done my myself. After being married for the second time around I returned to school, college that is. Was eighteen credits short of my degree in business management. Before that I went back to school for heating and A/C. That I completed! Time can pass so fast, raising kids and before you no it they are grown and gone or returning with their own kids for you to raise
    their kids. My story!

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    Keera says

    I really connected with your post. This is exactly what I’ve been feeling only you put it into words for me:

    “And with much regret, I realized I’d been holding on to “distractions” tighter than I had been to my own family, my own health, my own happiness–my own “things that matter.”

    The constant feeling, that you’re missed or forgotten something. This is how I want to feel….
    “In fact, for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I am constantly trying to catch up. I don’t feel anxious or stressed.
    I am more patient, more spontaneous, and more connected with my family than I have ever been.”

    The path has now been paved for me…I only wish I’d found this 3 years ago. Thank you.

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    Nhia in Wis. says

    THANK YOU. I came across your wonderful blog from a friend’s FB post. And this couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I get ready to leave an executive-level high-pressure, high-stress job in a struggling industry that demanded so many hours of my life. I will now be in a different industry in a healthier environment with a much more manageable pace.

    Which, of course, means I can devote more time to my beautiful three kids (ages 9, 7 and 6) and supportive husband. Gone will be the days of bringing the kids into the office with me on weekends in order to hit two birds with one stone (being with them AND getting work done, though I’m not sure giving them endless office supplies and letting their creativity run wild while I review financials and quarterly estimates counts as “being with them”).

    My Mommy Guilt had been at an all-time high. I joked (maybe it wasnt a joke after all) with friends that I was up for Most Neglectful Mom of the Year as I continually missed out on my kids’ activities. I had been consumed by the same exact thoughts you so eloquently put into words. But after much contemplation and prayer, I truly believe it was divine intervention that finally gave me the courage to switch careers in my mid- 30s here and prioritize what’s really important. God works in so many amazing ways and gives us so many blessings, big and small. Stumbling across your blog when I most needed to hear such encouraging words is just one small example of His awesomeness 🙂

    Again, a big THANKS for boldly sharing what so many of us moms have struggled with for so long. And for helping us to keep life in perspective by putting the digital devices away and remembering what’s most important.

    You just got yourself a new reader. 😉

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    Sara says

    I have never left a message on a blog before, but I felt compelled to leave one here. Tears are streaming down my face as I was reading your words. I hear myself in every sentence you wrote. Thank you for opening my eyes to what I knew in my heart, and what I want so desperately to change. My three-year-old precious little boy deserves it, and I vow that I will do it. Thank you for being the catalyst for this change. You have blessed me today more than you know.

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    Tracy says

    I am so glad that I stumbled onto your blog. I SO needed to hear this, and I am definitely along for the journey! I just recently told my boss of almost 10 years that I now want to be a stay-at-home-Mom because I realized that I was missing being with my children while they’re still children. My oldest just turned 10 and it suddenly occurred to me that she’s not a little girl anymore – she’s growing up so quickly and I’ve been oblivious to it in my constant state of panic to get everything done, and rush, rush, rush! Well, no more! We’re not exactly sure how we’re going to make ends meet without my income, but actually being present with my children is more important than that. We’ll manage, and we’ll enjoy the ride along the way. No regrets, that’s what I say!

    You’ve got a new loyal friend in Canada! 🙂

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      There is a subscribe box on the right hand side of my blog, Jamie. Just put your email address in the box and follow the prompt. You will receive a confirmation via email once it is complete. Just a couple of easy steps. Thank you!

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    Ashley w says

    Tears are falling as I read through your blog . I am a 22 year old single parent working full time & in school full time & I’m also the exact woman who is overloaded , anxiety ridden and stressed . Yesterday I took my daughter to the zoo, I gave us no time constraints and I told myself no matter what happened I wouldn’t get upset. And it was the best day we’d had together in a long time . Then I read your article last night and again this morning, sharing it with one of my coworkers. I realized I had to find and take back my joy in my life and let go of the small stuff. I’m always wound so tight that I cannot enjoy myself my time or my daughter and she is a direct reflection of the stress I am projecting on her. So thank you, I so needed this because I took could see that I am not the mother I wanted to be . So much that I would burst into tears watching my daughter sleep after I just got through a rage of yelling at her at how simple it is for her to lay in her bed and go to bed hen l she wanted to do was read

    • 141


      Thank you, Ashley. I can relate to what you are saying and I feel hopeful by the courage and strength you have displayed in your heartfelt message. I believe awareness is everything. I can tell you have gained awareness—your eyes have been opened and that makes all the difference. I speak from experience. I was far from perfect in my efforts to change, but I was trying and my daughter noticed the effort. We took time to connect with each other each night at bedtime. I can feel the hope in your message and in your future. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

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        Ashley says

        At the end of the day I made a sign & placed it at my station in funky scribble pink and black sharpie : don’t sweat the small stuff
        This revelation is incredible . I don’t want to say I will change overnight but I’m willing to endure because I love my daughter . Us both being (suvivor) of abuse by her father , I think I’ve also taken the weight of that and been holding onto it & pressing that with all the other stresses of life on her tiny beautiful shoulders
        And as I was walking to class I had another realization : your garden will only overflow with weeds if you allow it . Gardens need love, sunshine AND rain (tears) . I don’t know how thank you enough , but I’ll be printing this out & hanging it in the house . I’m getting back my new (old) outlook on life

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    Sherlyn says

    Thank you for sharing this. Its so nice to hear (read) that you are not alone. That a lot of moms are in the same situation and are helping each other out. Thank you once again.

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    Meher Unvalla says

    I love reading what you write and would enjoy getting future posts. I am part of a writing group and hope I can write like you one day…

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    Teresa says

    Although I am now a grandmother, and do not have children in the home, I think your writing inspires us all to “live in the moment”. With smartphones and social media, I think our distraction level has been raised to an all new high. Thank you for the reminder to focus on what really matters!

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    Albra Wheeler says

    The Universe truly works in mysterious ways. I found your post in a truly roundabout way this morning. A morning that I was hectic and stressful. A morning when I needed to read this article, find this blog, and start living my own hands free life. Like so many others my shirt is wet with tears as well. Yet, the sadness (of which I hadn’t acknowledged) is being lifted and replaced with relief. It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time. Frightening to let go of what my ego wants: acceptance, organization, and recognition. Rewarding to settle into what my soul and family really needs: connection, harmony, and love.

    Thank you so much for your honesty and willingness to share. Too often in our culture women are shamed for being open and honest about the hardships of parenting. You are a an inspiration.

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    Sherry says

    I feel like someone has punched me in the gut. I “just happened” to catch your blog post on facebook this morning when a friend shared it……the one about the bully within. I fell like God himself just took me by the shoulders and shook me. I am going to just love at my house today …..

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    Mary Beth Reed says

    I am speechless. I just read your new article about the bully in our house. I feel like you were a spy on our wall digging into the depths of my head to talk about all the things I have done to fail my daughter. I’ve seen her big blue eyes look at me so innocently questioning why I’m upset/impatient/dissapointed. I know what I’ve needed to do, but seem to fail at making it happen. I am so encouraged by your words. I am so encouraged to see that a person like me can make it happen. Thank God for blessing my day with such a meaningful article.

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    Hi Rachel, I am a stay at home mom of two beautiful girls, 3 and 6. I am truly blessed God chose me to be there Mommy, but lately, I am feel that I have fallen so short of the mommy title. Yes, I volunteer at my daughter’s school, host playdates and chauffeur my girls around to their activities. There are days where I just beat myself up when I think, I have to wake up and do this again? What am I doing here and what am I really supposed to be doing. I am not present like I should be and I am not as patient as I should be. I feel that I am not enjoying my kids like I should and that really bothers me. Two years ago, I started a blog with a friend of mine called A Hands on Mom, and the goal is to encourage parents to provide their children with every day learning opportunities, to be their child’s first teacher. So we post easy to do activities at home or outside the home with your kids. We also focus on teachers in our blog by posting about learning differences and positive ways to communicate with students’ parents. Although lately I have found myself reposting articles from Huffington Post, your blog or Finding Joy blog as your articles seem so timely and fitting for my audience. When I open my inbox or see your post on Facebook, it truly is a blessing as it gets me through my challenging days. So thank you for your beautifully written words. You are such an inspiration and I hope when I “grow up” I can be like you. Hands-free, joy-filled, and living a life with purpose. All the Best, Amy

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    Stephanie Palmer says

    Thank you Rachel,
    As I read the article “The Bully to close to home” a tear of hope fell from my eyes I am so grateful that I am not the only mom who makes mistakes in parenting I am so excited to read this to my daughter and change how I parent, they need to be kids!
    Life changing thank you,
    Stephanie Palmer
    Layton , Utah

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    Jenny says

    I just wanted to say, I was on facebook skimming through my feeds and came across this. I started reading and realized the part about constantly critiquing your oldest daughter and thinking you’re preparing her for adulthood. Then it hit me, this is EXACTLY what I do. I justified it as, when I was her age I was doing what I expected of her and then some, so there’s no reason for her to be this lazy or unorganized. I’ve had many people tell me she’s not you, she’s different. It never officially sunk in until I read your posts. Our lives aren’t as busy as yours is/was, but with 3 girls it feels like we are always nonstop with just household chores. We rarely do activities simply bc our vehicles are too small to do things as a family (for now). I’m constantly on the kids about cleaning up something and my oldest gets the brunt of it (she’s 10, the other 2 are 3 and 1). I lost my mom when I was 8, so a lot of my childhood was without my mom, while my dad did a great job raising my sister and I, let’s face it dads give a different kind of love than mothers do, plus he was a marine. We were raised with tough love, orderly, work hard and you’ll be rewarded tactics. While I’m greatful for this upbringing bc I would not have gotten to where I am today, I’ve realized that I need to ease up on my oldest and stop critiquing her EVERY SINGLE MOVE. As you realized it is within my own dissatisfaction of myself that I lash out on everyone else. This will take a lot of work on my part but I’m going to try to change my ways especially towards my oldest. THANK YOU for this eye opening blog.

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    Deborah says

    How is it that I am just now finding your blog?? I feel a sense of relief just knowing that there are people out there that feel the same as I do. My problem is slightly different in that I am definitely not type A but am a perfectionist. I used to get as much joy out of every day life as I could loving every single minute with my children. Then my oldest started school and I got swept into the “keeping up” mode. Trying to be as good, as perfect, as everyone else but still enjoying time with my kiddos. Something had to go and it ended up being my time with my kids. Instead I spend my time cleaning a house that is never as clean as anyone else’s, shopping for bargains so my kids can have what other’s have and not feel left out (and not leave us broke)…..it goes on and on. I miss my old world of putting my family first and not caring what anyone else did or thought. Thank you for your blog. I hope it will help me get back on track with what I KNOW is the most important thing, my family.

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    Amanda says

    This hit really close to home. I have been trying to become more “hands free” myself. I cannot wait to read more!

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    ms.dehoux says

    After reading ‘The Important Thing About Yelling’ post/article (which I came across on a friend’s facebook page) and following your link here, I feel I NEED to thank you so very, very much for writing this and finally helping to wake me up! I’m not a mother yet, but I am the daughter of yellers. I treat the people I love the most or who are most important to me with that same level of disrespect. Whether it is yelling at my husband or giving disapproving looks or eye-rolling to people who don’t ‘live up to my standards’. Frustrated sighs constantly bellow from within me because I’m always trying to over do it, and do it to perfection, without realizing that NOBODY is perfect — not even ME. I put too much time and effort in to things that shouldn’t matter so much to me. Your words have inspired me to find inner peace and project the type of person others would enjoy being around, but above all… focus on the things that TRULY matter — Family. Wish me luck!

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    You have so eloquently captured everything that I’m trying to do differently in the New Year. I am totally and utterly a “A compulsive Type A, massive to-do list writin’ planner” that needs to remind myself more often just how special life is and how important genuine interactions are to me. Thank you for your encouraging and inspiring words.

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    Momof3 says

    Thank you for this article. I am a mother of three wonderful children and I was finding it hard to spend my time with them… with a full time job and all the chores to do at home (so I thought). I read your blog and looked around my house and realized I too was overusing my cell phone which took away time from the three blessings god has given me and created havoc as I tried to keep up with the housework so at the end of the night I could be on my phone. Or worse, as my children are running up to me, I am staring at a screen… a screen! So, in December I decided to not just put the phone down but to turn it off. I rarely use it and when I do I limit myself to 15 minutes or only use it when it’s needed for a phone call. What a difference this has made. I have so much more free time to be with my kids and it has made an impact in their daily interactions with me. No longer am I rushing them to do this and that so that I can have time to sit down and look at FB, Pinterest etc. Now I sit on the floor and do what I should have done all along, PLAY. I still pick up the house (every night from dishes to floors) but I wait until our two smallest are already to bed and our oldest is having some LeapPad time (we allow minimal usage). And my husband has jumped on board and helps out more as well. He has always helped with the house work/kids but now it’s more of a constant joint effort. One of us sits and plays while the other does dinner, then while bath time is up and going the other person is cleaning up from dinner or doing a quick load of laundry. You have no idea how much this has inspired me to be a better mother and I look back asking myself, how did I ever get so out of touch with what truly matters and instead used my time to look on media sites, fantasy leagues, etc., all with people I hardly see or care about anyway. So thank you for taking the time to open so many eyes to this important issue. .

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    P. Ricard says

    I greatly respect the points being made here…but my reality is that I don’t own a smartphone, don’t spend considerable time on FB, I only have 12 friends which are mostly family. I need the to do lists, and I need to finally some day be organized enough that things are clean and put in their place most of the time, in order to finally feel some sense of peace and calm in my home. That is when I will experience the freedom of time and sense of relief and peace for other things. I am not there yet, but I keep working to get there. Until then, I constantly feel overwhelmed, letting go to spend time with family and once in a while friends, is just a momentary respite from the reality of a messy house, a full time job and 3 additional businesses to run with my husband. Our philosophy is to honor what precious resources(not necessarily money) we have been blessed with from family and those whose hard work before us that have made those resources possible, by making the most of what we have been given to work with, and doing that as muchso with other family members as possible. Eventually we will pass that on to younger generations in whom it has been instilled what a wonderful family inheritance of values and resources they will receive. Family is everything, a sense of honoring what your ancestors have sweated and bled for by being willing to make some of your own personal sacrifices of effort and time, and not squandering the gifts away is also a part of being family regardless of whether it is glamorous or not.

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    L.J. says

    I have never commented on a blog before. But after being directed here from your article on yelling in the Huffington Post, I have to say that your words really touch home . I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my 3 year old daughter. But I think that because I have this extra time with her I often work on the household chores (cleaning, cooking, laundry, paperwork, bills, phone calls etc) while expecting her to keep herself busy. (She’s an only child) I catch myself thinking: “I’ll read a book to her or play after I’m done with….”. And before I know it, I’ve passed up the opportunity and I kick myself later for not really being present. Or worse, I catch myself yelling at her to be quiet because I’m on the phone (or something along those lines). Or passing up on the opportunity to spend quality time with her, because something else seemed more pressing. My husband is so great at playing with her or spending quality time with her and I find myself reasoning that since he’s home now, I finally have the opportunity to….(make dinner, do laundry, etc). I’ve really been trying to work on being more present and spending quality time with her. I realize that these are important years that will shape her as a person, and I really don’t want to miss an opportunity to spend time with her or have my distractions cut down our communication. I really find your outlook and comments to be exactly what I need to think about as I try to be a more loving and present parent. Thank you for offering your experience to those of us who are just figuring these things out… I look forward to following your blog!

    signed, a very grateful mama

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    When I had my youngest I went through a bit of a similar revelation. I had been doing a lot before she was born and, knowing how busy a newborn can be, I completed all of my commitments and didn’t take on any new ones for quite a while. I learned many lessons at that time about what was truly bringing joy to the family and slowly – very slowly – added in things here and there that filled my heart with joy. I’ve never been as scheduled and busy as I was previously and I feel good. It is something I continue to struggle with – being fully present, picking and choosing activities and commitments through prayer more so that a knee-jerk “yes” reaction, etc. However, it has brought so many good things to our family that I know I am plodding along slowly in the right direction. I’m so glad that someone shared this blog on Facebook and look forward to reading and being inspired to continue to try to live “hands free.”

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    becky says

    Thank you for this. I came across your article on yelling through Just Between Friends and I am so blessed to have found your blog. I am fervently praying about simplifying, although as a single mom it takes on a whole new perspective.
    Hoping you have many blessings and a peace filled new year

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    Nora says

    WOW! I thought I was the only one! Thank you very much for sharing your personal experience with other mothers. I am single mother of a beautiful one year old baby. I was “evicted” by my husband who brutally assaulted me several times when I was pregnant and after a painful c-section.
    I left him and re-built my life far away. I have spent my child’s first year looking after him and on my laptop at the same time as I work from home. I would become upset every time I had to work and my child was crying. I have to say that it was not easy at all. I felt guilty because I was being selfish and my baby needed me. I was trapped in my own pain and world where I had to make everything work. I have now changed my routine. My son comes first, my clients can wait and if the kitchen is not clean, I don’t care anymore. I will clean it when I can.

    Thanks a lot, I will buy your book for sure.

    Regards, Nora

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    Dear Rachel

    I found your blog through a friend’s post on Facebook of the article published on The Huffington Post. I couldn’t stop crying while reading it and feeling miserable at the same time as you were writing about me! Some weeks ago I started thinking about my life and my levels of stress… and my kids don’t deserve that. I can be much better than rushing all day trying to do all things that “need” to be done but that never are. So I will take your hand and start my journey.

    Thank you so much, and a big hug from Mallorca!!

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    Shelley says

    Those distractions keep us from being connected. Also want to caution the use of some antidepressants that suppress the production of hormones that allow us to feel connected. But hey they make the plugging away easier. Someone please create a lobby group to make life easier. No government or health care agency should be allowed to create complex processes or forms. We need a simplification revolution!

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    Tay says

    I read your post about screamming in portuguese, and I saw myself in that story…so I decided to search for this person that had the courage to change everyhing i her life, and I discovered your world. and the world of your kids, I have two children also one is two and the other one is 6, and Im a very busy mom, work a lot take care of my children, my husband and my mom, and I try to be perfect…but after reading your posts I will think about what really matters in life.
    thank you

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    This was a beautiful testimony. I feel like there are times – not every day – but definitely a few times a week, where I am living in the present, in the moment with my child, my family, my friends, myself and my life. But that awareness, or the frequency of it, only started a few months ago. It was a blessing when it came to me. But I have SOOOO far to go because of the strange pull from less important distractions that I still feel some of those times when I am forcing myself to be engaged in my life and not planning it or posting about it on social media. As a digital storyteller, professional communicator, and information junkie, I often find it super challenging to just be. I’m glad I found you – and I look forward to sharing your journey, learning from it and participating in supportive conversations.

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    Christie says

    Just found your website, ordered your book and sending gratitude from a homeschooling mom of 4 with a never-ending to-do list. Hands-free from now on! Thank you!

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    Dawn says

    You may have well been reading every thought in my head, i see reading your article gulping back the tears seeing my life appearing in your notes. I’m glad its not just me as every day i genuinely feel like the worlds worst mom, but now in determined to start to change. Thank you. Dawn

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    NAS says

    This is my first time on your site and all I can say is wow. I needed this. I am so overwhelmed with working outside the home, laundry, clean floors, cleaning up after kids. I do not enjoy life. I just get through it. Sad to admit but even time with God is part of my to-do list and I think why am I not happy. Your words, blog has helped me and I have only been on it for 30 minutes. Thank you for sharing your journey. I needed it and sincerely appreciate it.


  111. 178


    I have just discovered your site and am lost for words. What an honest and moving blog you have. Each entry contains several powerful and motivating lessons and truths. Thank you for guiding the way and gently reminding us of what truly is important in life.

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    Cynthia Piechocki says

    I wish I would have found you, or someone like you, years ago when my boys were young. Now they’re in college and not a day goes by when I don’t feel a stab of regret for not being more “engaged in the moment” while they were growing up. I know that I tried but as it got more difficult, I let a lot of the truly important things slip away because I was too tired or too stressed or just plain sick of everything in my life that I hated. I am so glad you are sharing your experience and inspiration with the public. Thank you for your words and courage.

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    Cody Tomei says

    Hi Rachel my name is Cody Tomei and I find you beyond inspiring. I was really hoping I could get to talk to you or even better meet with you. I’m only 25 and I’ve been struggling with mental illnesses for longer then I can bare. I’ve been feeling suicidal again, I’m sorry if that’s to personal, but this is my cry for help. I believe in you and what your doing and standing up for. That’s why I’m reaching out to you. And because it couldn’t have been a coincidence that your post popped up on my facebook. Today was the first day I ever read one of your post and it so happens that your message described me exactly.

    It was the article about your daughter and her progress report. Before you I thought I was cursed with this because its “not normal” I’ve been criticized and put down like your daughter was. Here’s the comment I left on your facebook page: “This made me feel really good, cause I can completely relate to this little girl, I’m the same way I notice everything around me and out in the world that others don’t and when I mention it to people they look at me weird or say like where’d that come from and I put myself down because of that. I feel like I didn’t belong, that I was weird and not normal and stupid. I feel so embarrassed of myself that I stay away from people and socializing as much as possible because I feel I don’t fit in. And all I really want in life is to help people and make them feel happy, nothing in this world feels better to me then to see people smiling, happy and not struggling; and call me crazy but I can easily read into people to the point that I can feel and understand what they are feeling inside I guess kind of like intuition. This is inspiring to me, you and your daughter have turned on a light for me to escape from the dark so I can again get out and take notice to what or who needs help. You both are amazingly wonderful people!”

    I hope for any kind of reply from you, because I feel like your the one that can save me. I was the guy that always asked “how you doing?” to complete strangers walking by, always held doors open for strangers, always asked strangers if they needed help or just helped them if I saw them struggling and it didn’t matter if they were young or old I did it with everyone. I was basically a therapist to all my friends guys and girls, they always came to me about the smallest things to completely personal things they wouldn’t want anyone else to know. I love doing things like that, it made me feel like I actually matter, and that I was put here to do something great for the world. But the mental struggles I’ve been going through the past few years are ripping me apart. I have some much trouble now trying to go out in public, because its negative and painful to see and right now I’m to weak to help so that makes me feel even worse, and guilty that I’m not helping. I’m not the person that I was and want to be!

    Sorry for writing so much I’m just trying to describe myself, so you can get an idea of who I am. I would love to get involved in your group, if that’s possible one day, because I truly believe in your work and what your doing and I’m not just saying that either. What your doing is what I told my family I wanted to do years ago, as a career. Sharing knowledge and experiences to everyone around the world, to show how easy it is to be peaceful to one another and how easily peace can brighten and better the world again.

    I really hope I catch your interest as much as you have intrigued me!

    Listen, Learn, Love, Laugh, Live
    Cody Tomei

    • 182


      Thank you, Adam. What a beautifully open and reflective piece you have written. I commend you for sharing your discoveries with others. It is a brave and generous way to live. I am touched that my writings are helping you. Thank you for sharing this with me. I wish you continued progress!

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    Jen Starks says

    Yes! This is exactly the journey I have started to embark this past 18 months. After the birth of my 3rd child, I realized I actually had a breaking point. Why am I trying to “work” and keep up with my family all at once. I was tried to my phone and computer and hustling around everywhere. Irritated at my kids but stuck on the idea of being home with them, I was not free. Now, I have released this idea of what I thought I needed to be and just let myself fold into my family. I am present to them and living life on our terms now. I look forward to reading more into your story. Thank you!

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    Just discovered your blog – love it, and can’t wait to read more and follow you. I am trying to make a lot of positive changes in my life, and also blogging about it. I’m looking forward to this journey and all the inspiration and beauty that will unfold. Thank you!

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    A friend on Facebook shared your “The important thing about yelling” article from it’s repost on familyshare.com. After reading it, I clicked the link in the article that went to this post. I’m a yeller. It’s not something I like doing. My days aren’t nearly as hectic as you’ve described. My kids are 7, 4, and nearly 2. Really, we just make sure the older two are at school and then the youngest and I stay home if I don’t have to work. I’m a writer, but it’s not quite lucrative yet. I’ve taught college in the past, but am not currently doing that. I substitute teach on occasion. I broke my iPhone a while back and was gifted a Windows Phone I can’t figure out how to do much with but talk and text. I get on a computer when I can use someone else’s. I have other reasons to be stressed in my life, though. We are essentially homeless, staying with friends. I can’t find steady enough work around my existing childcare options. My children have special needs. Sometimes, my children will do something destructive quite deliberately, and I will swallow the yell and react calmly, lovingly, while still firmly insisting they clean up and not do that again. Other times, the yell escapes almost of its own volition. The other morning, while I was still getting ready, my children spread cornstarch all over themselves and the kitchen. I screamed for a long time, seeing spots in my eyes, while cleaning it up by myself. They just stared at me. After a bit, I calmed, breathed, and my 7yo came up to me, sat next to me, and we talked calmly about what had upset me. Everyone got changed into clean clothes, and we got them to school late. Fortunately, they go to understanding programs that don’t count tardies against them. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of a plot of land, a tiny house, a self-sustaining, off-grid family farm. I could home school my children and just let them be kids without deadlines and test scores and such. It’s probably a pipe dream, but I bet we’d flourish in an unplugged environment.

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    Rachel says

    I came across one of your blogs about a year ago on FaceBook and have since then read several reposts of your blogs. I just want to say Thank You. Thank you for your words and thoughts and for sharing your life and experiences with us.
    I read your blogs and think to myself ‘this is me’. I have a beautiful 4 year old little girl, Morgan, who is also a noticer. She sees everything and wants to know about everything and it is so wonderfully amazing that she is this way, but can be overwhelming at the same time. I have to admit that I have let some of the distractions of life get in the way of really enjoying my time with not only her, but my boyfriend too. He is an amazing man who loves me flaws and all and loves Morgan like she is his own. When I feel like I am letting too much get the way of me enjoying life and my everyday happiness with myself and my family, I think about your words.
    Rome was not built in a day so I know that my struggle to let go and be ‘Hands Free’ will be easy or short, but life is a journey and not a destination and I want to enjoy as much of it as I possibly can.

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    Ruth says

    Hi Rachel,

    I have just come across your page and feel our paths have just crossed and you have given me the encouragement to try for more if that makes sense. Its refreshing to read and find like minded people are out there who also believe that we should not let life run away and that we should grab hold onto our own lives and live them – truly live them and absorb the wonder of our children and family. Life is so short, my husband and I both work 4 days (we have fought for this as its ‘normal’ to do 5) purely because we want to have more time for ‘us’. Who says that we must work Monday to Friday, surely as long as we are paying our way, it is up to us how we spent it. My view is that I have a day for me just when the kids are at school (it is usually spent on doing chores) but it means we have free time all weekend for us at the weekend to connect and communicate but this is a struggle! I look forward to reading more and get more life to live with my family. Thank you.

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    Sheri says

    Wow! I wish I would have seen this when my boy’s where young, I alway felt I was doing what I was suppose to do (everything and in a hurry) I read the reading about your daughter who is a noticer, well that is how my older son was and still is! I always hurried him and my younger son and my husband along with myself! I was aware of the hussle bussle and did not like it, but hurry up, hurry up, hurry up was always a big part of their lives and I see what it has done to them! I’m going to let that go or work on this hurry, hurry, and go hands free staring today! Thank you for making me aware of a fault about myself that I need to work on Thank You Sheri

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    anonymous says

    I just wanted to point out that I am really excited to start reading thru your blog. I really think that what you write will really help me become a better mother. I just couldn’t help but to be honest in letting you know about the multiple typos and grammar errors that are in your introduction (“about hands free”). I am not at all trying to be rude, no one is perfect. But it just bothered me that they are there!

    • 191


      Thank you for letting me know in such a kind way. I can see that I have really improved as a writer over the past 5 years since the day I wrote that! I have corrected a few issues that I saw. It could actually use a total overhaul–that’s for sure. Hopefully you will enjoy the content I have written in the last couple years. It is much stronger. Thanks for being here!

  121. 194


    Hi Rachel,

    I just stumbled across your page on Facebook and am feeling very grateful for finding it. I love your message and appreciate how you so eloquently communicate it.

    I will check in regularly. Thanks for being there.


  122. 196


    Hi Rachel,

    The discovery that lead up to you deciding to set up this blog is amazing. I am guilty of belonging to the type whereby I can’t live without my phone until I returned to Singapore from my university studies in Australia two years back. When I first got back to Singapore, I did not have a 3G phone plan to access internet and turned out having the time to observe how my friends are constantly texting or surfing the net. That was when I realized how everyone was so hooked up with their phones and although I was forced by my circumstances to be hands free, I’m glad that I went hands free most of the time up till now. Instead of wondering why I am always rushing, now I have more time to appreciate the things happening around me. This definitely also greatly influenced the way I am teaching now.

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    Anne says

    Thank you for writing this blog. I just discovered it and already, after reading just 2 posts, I feel like I can relate all too well to what you are writing. I recently finished a doctoral program and with 2 little girls at home (ages 2 and 4-1/2). It’s been 5 years of leaning in so hard that I might soon fall over. Your blog gives me hope for another way; a more balanced approach to life. Thank you.

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        Susan says

        Rachel you are so kind and energetic. I have reached retirement age and have a strong suggestion for you. Notice your husband. Mine finally told me that he thought I knew he was “out of town” a lot and therefore he said “now you’ll notice me”. He was raised by a cruel mother but I had never ever realized how cruel she was as he was so fun and loving, but needed a great deal more than I could give him. God be with us all.

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    Angela says

    Wow, I wish I had stumbled across your post, which was posted on my friends Facebook page today, three years ago and maybe today I wouldn’t be where I am, separated from the love of my life and losing the family that I had so desperately wanted. Well I had it all but was so busy trying to make the package look perfect that I forgot to enjoy the moments. It is only recently that I realized how fortunate I already was and well now, what I wanted to badly, (and had) is gone. Your words speak volumes to me, I have been working to find my smile and let go of all that was controlling me and stealing my happiness and carefree self. This is journey that I am on, I find myself slipping back some days but I find my ways to remind myself to “See flowers not Weeds” but I love the idea of wearing the reminder! I will continue to follow your blog posts and share with others. Thank you!

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    Jenn says

    Wow! I just read this article and it made me cry; let’s be honest, I was bawling. It was me; it was me to the “T”. I am guilty of all of the above, the over committing, distractions, working, phone calls, e-mails, etc. I really want to change and become a hands free mama too.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    Shaundra says

    It has taken me the last year or so to begin analyzing my life in this way. After I went back to get my teaching degree and have taught twelve years of school, I have realized my career came first. When did that become ok? It happened early in my career when I thought I could do anything and everything. I did not realize at the time I really was not including my family in my picture. Adults are supposed to work, right? I have physically been here for my family but the majority of the time not mentally. I look back now as my children are a senior and junior in high school and wonder where their childhoods went. I became the cliché, not listening to those around me with more experience.
    Most of this school year has belonged to my daughter, who is a senior. I have been able to volunteer at her school for her chorus activities. I have found the time a blessing. I hope I may do more volunteer work and continue to drive her around when she needs me.


  1. […] there, definitely for the good.Which brings me to share with you the excellent blog of Rachel at Hands Free Mama.  I read her blog and felt ashamed of myself for sometimes shushing my children as I checked […]

  2. […] In other news, the self improvement doesn’t just end physically. I read an article/blog (here) about one woman’s battle against hurrying her children, hurrying her life, etc. And I also read what she wrote about being “hands free” (here). […]

  3. […] phone … Jordan calls me Mrs. Insta which is really funny, but kinda sad. I’ve taken the Hands free pledge, and I have gotten a lot better at putting my phone down, but I’m still not quite there […]

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