Hands Free Mama

hfmbookIf technology is the new addiction, then multi-tasking is the new marching order. We check our email while cooking dinner, send a text while bathing the kids, and spend more time looking into electronic screens than into the eyes of our loved ones. With our never-ending to-do lists and jam-packed schedules, it’s no wonder we’re distracted.

But this isn’t the way it has to be.

In July 2010, special education teacher and mother Rachel Macy Stafford decided enough was enough. Tired of losing track of what matters most in life, Rachel began practicing simple strategies that enabled her to momentarily let go of largely meaningless distractions and engage in meaningful soul-to-soul connections. She started a blog to chronicle her endeavors and soon saw how both external and internal distractions had been sabotaging her happiness and preventing her from bonding with the people she loves most.

Hands Free Mama is the digital society’s answer to finding balance in a media-saturated, perfection-obsessed world. It doesn’t mean giving up all technology forever. It doesn’t mean forgoing our jobs and responsibilities. What it does mean is seizing the little moments that life offers us to engage in real and meaningful interaction. It means looking our loved ones in the eye and giving them the gift of our undivided attention, leaving the laundry till later to dance with our kids in the rain, and living a present, authentic, and intentional life despite a world full of distractions.

So join Rachel and go hands-free. Discover what happens when you choose to open your heart—and your hands—to the possibilities of each blessed moment.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | iBooks (Apple) | IndieBound

 

Comments

  1. 2

    Janaina says

    Hello Rachel,

    I am so happy that your are releasing a book and congratulations.

    I am pretty sure will be very successful.

    I already pre-ordered two of your book.

    Thanks,

    Janaina

  2. 4

    says

    Rachel! I’m so excited to see this book will be released soon. I can’t wait to read it. I’ve followed your blog for years. I love to read writers who are passionate about their message. You always inspire me to let go. Our moments in time are so fleeting, and your message to let go of distractions is so critical today. Thank you for sharing your heart and your voice on a topic that will greatly strengthen families!

  3. 9

    Jennifer M says

    I’m looking forward to reading and selling your book. I work at an independent book store, and I can think of several customers who would love your book. It would be great if you could also link to your book on the Indie Bound website so that lovers of independent bookstores can find your book, too. Thanks! http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780310338130

  4. 11

    Lisa says

    Just pre ordered your book (I’m from the uk) but lived in the states for a short while, making lots of friends. After seeing a friend’s link to your website on Facebook I read you entire website this afternoon and was inspired. I have shared your link with my friends and they in turn have been sharing between their communities in the uk too. I wish you every success x

  5. 13

    Ingrid says

    I just discovered you on Facebook and feel like it was meant to be for this is exactly what I need right now. I’ve poured through your blog posts with the tears streaming. Preordering the book and hoping for some practical tips. I feel like I know what I need to do, but a bit of direction and “to dos” will be so helpful. I’m so happy for you and your family that you made this discovery about yourself and your life and thank you for sharing so honestly and passing it on to others like me so I, and my children, can benefit.

  6. 14

    Jaki Owen says

    Pre ordered the book! Just bought the bracelet and pledge! Wish this yelling mommy luck! I so long to change! Thank you for a place to start!

    • 15

      says

      Welcome, Jaki! We aren’t perfect here, but we are trying–each day we get up and keep trying–and this makes a difference in the lives of the people we love. Baby steps on this journey can make a difference. Together, we are not alone.

  7. 18

    brett h says

    found your blogsite after a friend posted a link on facebook. I cried after your post on “the bully too close to home”. I have too often been that guy and my wife and kids have suffered because of that. ordering your book tonight and taking the first steps towards “stop” and “only love today”

    • 19

      says

      Brett, let me be the first (sorry, Rachel!) to welcome you to the Hands Free Revolution. I just had to reply because I’m glad to see another man reading the blog in hopes of changing his life. I love the women here, too, of course, but I want you to know that you’re not alone as a dad/husband. Take care.

      • 20

        says

        Chris, you make the world a better place. I will never forget when you reached out to me, when Hands Free Mama was only read by a few, and gave me the support & encouragement to keep writing. It does not surprise me that you would take a moment to encourage another person here on the site. I have said it from day one and believe it more than ever, the Hands Free message knows no boundaries. The joy in letting go of that which keeps us from truly living is for everyone. Thank you for sharing this journey with me from the start.

  8. 22

    Summer says

    OMG, I literally felt like I was reading something I had written about myself. This blog was eye-opening for me as a single mother. I am lost for words, but thank you, thank you, thank you!! God knew I needed to read this today. I can’t wait to purchase the book!!

  9. 23

    Jamie says

    A friend posted this to FB last night. I began reading it, but didn’t have the courage to finish it. This morning I read it several times. The person you’re writing about is all too familiar to me and I’m ashamed and saddened, yet encouraged. In an effort to avoid a very, very lengthy post I’ll simply say that the timing of this could not be more Perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!

  10. 27

    Erica Grevenstuk says

    Just came across this site from a post on Facebook. Your blogs touched me deeply! I even cried a little. Ordering your book today!

  11. 28

    says

    Thank you! I believe you just read my mind, as I read the post I had tears in my eyes. You helped me realize I need to do more for my daughter & lift her spirits! I am a single parent and struggle to handle everything, I look forward to your book! Congrats …and can’t wait!

    You are a true blessing!

  12. 29

    Cindi Louderback says

    As I read your story, I sat here and cried and I felt like I was reading the story of my life. Thank you for the story and I will be ordering your book.

  13. 30

    kh says

    This post spoke to me, it was like you were telling a story of my life. I am such a perfectionist and am always putting myself down. And I have started to realize doing the same things to my older son that you would do to your older daughter. It is a hard realization to face, but I am so excited to read your book and see a change in my life as well as my sons. Thank you, it is easier to face these hurdles in life knowing that others are going through the same thing!

  14. 31

    Lynn says

    I just read your article called “The bully too close to home”. I hate to admit it but I do the same exacts things to my children. I have so desperately want to change and I cannot wait to sit down and read this book. I am also going to share this article with my husband as well because he does this to everyone not just my children. I hate the way I feel when my husband corrects me and does not let me make my own decisions, right or wrong. I am hoping with time and patience I can strive to have a better relationship with my children too and not be so intense all the time.

  15. 32

    Anandhi says

    Reading ur writing was moving, I was in tears, it was a literal portrayal of my situation, though I am still in denial. Thanks for the supportive writing. As a kid my parents way of parenting was all about correcting and so I had thought that was the norm and my responsibility and this style of parenting has torn myself internally a lot as well, added to my busy life. It is like a revelation to read ur post and know there are more moms going thru similar. Looking forward to read your book. You are an excellent writer.

  16. 34

    Magdalena says

    Hi, a huge congratulations on your book!!! This is very exciting!
    Is it possible to have a look at the table of contents please?
    Thank you!
    M

  17. 35

    Jennifer says

    I’m super excited to read your book and have already pre ordered it for my kindle! I think too often women struggle with be the “perfect” mom. We criticize ourselves constantly, but why? I am 29 and have an 8 yr old son, and sometimes find myself yelling at him because I had a bad day, but then I have to stop and think about what I’m doing, what is the real reason I’m upset . If you’re interested, a great read in your spare time is – a confident heart by Renee swope. Her book teaches you how to get rid of doubt whispers and to trust in God and how to think and react more positively . Again, I’m soooooo excited for your book and congrats to your success!

  18. 36

    Ashley says

    I am so excited your book signing will be in Birmingham, AL! I am leaving straight from work to attend your event. I have per-ordered your book and cannot wait to meet you in person. Your book illustrates how moms today are coping with doing it all. It certainly holds true for me. Thank you for writing it!

  19. 38

    Jasmine says

    Rachel,
    i started following your blog about a year ago ! I fell in love with all of your amazing stories ! i am a work in progress but each day i am becoming a better mother to my children thanks to many of your blogs =) i now have a different perspective when it comes to my children and parenting…. i ordered your book today ! i am excited to read it !!!

  20. 39

    says

    I found your blog a few weeks ago after your “Bully” post and fell in love with the encouragement of your words. My mom friends and I have been pre-ordering your book for our book club next month and we look forward to bonding over it. We are stay at home moms, working moms and work from home moms with busy lives and your book seems to be just what we all need right now. Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts and know that out in San Diego, a group of moms are getting lots of encouragement.

  21. 41

    Melissa says

    I can’t wait to read your book as I’ve just become a fan! My son asked me last night what my New Years resolution is and I told him to be more “hands free”. When he asked what that meant, I explained and asked him what his was. And he said the same! The message is already hitting home and I love it! Unfortunately, I am also trying to save money (another resolution) as our spending was a little crazy this past year. So, I am unable to purchase your book right now, but my birthday is in February….hint, hint to my husband….maybe it will turn up from my loved ones!
    Thanks for all you do!

      • 43

        Melissa says

        Thats so sweet! It doesn’t look like its going to happen. My family thinks i have too many books! I usually get them free from swapping online. I still continue to enjoy your blog and any advice or stories you share. Its too bad you are so far south (for us), we are int he north east. You would love our starfish out here! Thank you for all you do

  22. 44

    Tracy says

    Someone shared the Huffington Post article today on FB and I read it and it almost made me cry. I am just like this and I have been trying to stop the yelling and just haven’t been successful. I take it one day at a time, some days are better than others. I have pre-ordered the book and I can’t wait til it arrives!! Thank you so much!!

    • 45

      says

      Thank you Tracy! I am so glad to know. Here are two other resources for you: The Orange Rhino is an incredible source of wisdom and inspiration for overcoming the inclination to yell. The Orange Rhino is a parent who challenged herself to 365 days of no yelling and shared her struggles and triumphs on a blog. The Orange Rhino recently began year two of her peaceful initiative. A good place to start reading is “10 things I learned when I stopped yelling.” http://theorangerhino.com/10-things-i-learned-when-i-stopped-yelling-at-my-kids/

      Another powerful resource is an easy-to-read book called “Say What You See.” This book offers a simple strategy that all parents can use in explosive moments that can bring a calm and beneficial response. The strategy described in the book can also be used in other situations when your child is having difficulty and you are not sure what to say. I highly recommend it! http://www.amazon.com/SAY-WHAT-YOU-Parents-Teachers-ebook/dp/B005CA3CQC

  23. 46

    says

    Hey Rachel!

    I recently shared your life-changing post on my site and cannot thank you enough. I can’t wait to read the book and share with my followers as I’m sure it’ll be full of even more truly helpful tips. Its nice to know that I’m not the only mom out there who at times feels like she’s drowning in to-do lists and mama guilt (this has been the hardest for me, personally) Love to all. XO

  24. 48

    Angela Morris says

    Hi Rachel-I am about a third way through your book and so many things have struck my soul. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    I have a question and forgive me if you have addressed this somewhere. Do you still teach? I know I read you worked from home-did you/do you teach from home? I am asking because this is my current occupation and I can identify so much with many of the stories that you have shared.
    Thank you in advance!

  25. 49

    says

    Rachel

    My pre-ordered book came in the mail and I simply cannot wait to devour it! I love your clear, profound writing and have enjoyed following your blog for a year now. So excited to read your book! Congratulations! What an accomplishment!

  26. 51

    Colleen says

    Yahoo! My copy of your book arrived in the mail yesterday and I am so looking forward to reading. Will admit that I did not get a chance last night as my beautiful 6yr old daughter wanted to cuddle and show off her blossoming reading skills to me. I can not say no to moments like those as there will come a day when her and I will no longer fit on the big comfy chair to cuddle like that. I know you understand :)
    Congrats on the book!

  27. 53

    Meredith says

    Hi Rachel,

    I was able to come to your book signing last night, hear you speak, and get two of your books. I could not stay to get my books signed because I needed to get home to put my boys to bed, but wanted to say congrats and thanks. I have been subscribing to your blog for years, long before I even realized you lived in my city, and the emails always give me the much needed reminder to stay on track with keeping my phone off when kiddos are around and being present with them. So happy for your success, and look forward to many more years of inspiration from you.

  28. 55

    Ivett says

    Dear Rachel,
    my englisch is not soooo good, but I hope you can understand, what I write.
    I have read today morning a small portion of Your book in german language…I have still tears in my eyes…and the sentences are still in my head, because what I have read, THAT´S ME :-(
    I want to tell You, I wait impatiently for the complete German or best Hungarian edition!!!!
    I want Your book !!!
    Best wishes from an another mam :-)

  29. 56

    Katie says

    Hi Rachel, I’ve only recently found your blog and I love it. I want to order a hard copy of your book, but it’s out of stock in Chapters, on chapters.ca (where it says it may be restocked) and amazon.ca (which says it will ship in 2-3 months). Is there anyway of getting my hands on a copy elsewhere here in Canada?
    Thanks so much! x

  30. 57

    Alexis says

    Received my copy of your book in the mail! My husband just laughed as I jumped up and down from the excitement!! Thank you so much for what you do…you’re changing my life as a person, mother and wife!! Sure wish you had a book signing here in Nebraska because it would be an honor to meet you!!

  31. 58

    Nidhi says

    Rachel, I am so glad I found your website. I have two little girls 4 and 2 years who are a bundle of joy but I hate to admit that while balancing Career and kids, I have forgotten to slow down and just enjoy with them. With the way technology has taken over us, every post of yours resonates with the feelings I have as a Mom. I feel guilty when my daughter says – Mommy why don’t you stay home and cook and play with us and Daddy can work. I guess I am afraid what would happen to my career if I did that. Too much for a 4.5 year old to say but that has got me thinking about all this. I am immensely inspired by your thoughts, that is just what I needed.

  32. 59

    Melanie says

    I am thanking God for blessing you with the strength and courage that it took to write this book and for making sure that it landed in my hands. Your book is exactly what I need at this point in my life. I have pinned and read countless articles about connecting more with your kids and loved ones but nothing has stuck the way that your book has. In fact I came up to work with my youngest daughter on Monday to meet some co-workers for our daily walk on the greenway and when we were finished I went to check my email on my phone (I run an after school and summer camp program so I have to check my email each day at 2:30 to make sure that we know if any kids will be out that day). I realized that I had not opened my email at all that day up to that point. I usually check my email first thing while eating breakfast in the morning. I didn’t even realize that I had not turned on my computer or looked at my phone all morning. I actually spent the morning, on my one day off, with my daughter as she helped me make lunches for everyone for the week and taught me all about how to properly take care of her baby. It was wonderful. Last night I was really anxious to get back to reading your book and was excited when my son got home from cub scouts and took his shower and got in bed. Then I realized that I had not seen him much at all that day much less talked to him about his day since he was gone to scouts by the time I got home from work. All of a sudden I had an overwhelming desire to go and lay in his bed with him for a few minutes and talk about how his day went. It was the best 15 minutes of my whole day! I normally would be annoyed by a request from him to come and lay with him for a few minutes because it would take away from my reading or catching up on emails time. Thank you so much again for writing this book. It has had an amazing impact on me already and I am not even finished. I am considering doing a small group study of this book at my church next semester. It has been a life changer for me already and my journey has only just begun. I can’t wait to see what memories God has planned for me to make with my family moving forward!

    • 60

      says

      Your story is so beautiful and affirming to me. I am so grateful you took the time to tell me. Just so you know, there will be a DVD small group video and curriculum guide coming out this August for Hands Free Mama. I will be taping the video this spring. Bless you as you continue opening your hands and heart to your precious life. Bless you, Rachel

  33. 61

    Tara says

    Rachel,
    I started reading your blog for the first time yesterday. I can not thank you enough for inspiring me to be a better Mom. I was immediately tested last night; after an extremely long day at work I was greated by a full blown tantrum from my 6 year old daughter, as my 4 year old son was watching me and waiting for a reaction. (which is me usually yelling at either one of them) I took a deep breath and did not engage. I calmed her down in a loving way. Well, after about ten minutes my daughter apologized for her behavior and held me tight. I could not help but feel a sense of great accomplishment in this rather small feat. I just bought your book and uploaded it to my Nook. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    • 62

      says

      This is beautiful, hopeful, and inspiring. Thank you for taking time to let me know. This really means a great deal to me. Keep focusing on the little victories to let go and love — they are not little at all.

  34. 63

    rachel says

    THANK YOU!!! This book changed my life and my parenting forever….. a new perspective as I recently found myself perpetually cranky, irritated and distracted from my family and children. I am not able to re-write my childhood, but I have the chance to help my children enjoy a mother who is present and plugged in to them! Nothing could be more important to me! When you know better- you do better!
    Backing up from Facebook was harder than I would have imagined- but it was a major distraction for me… there are real connections in life- and then there are faux social-media dependant relationships- it’s hard to see the difference sometimes…. but those that truly love and value you and your relationship with them – will make the effort to see you and be with you and share intimate moments in your life.
    It also began to annoy me that I was inviting judgemental and opinionated people into my intimate world of photos and thoughts- that did not deserve this free pass! It is very difficult to guard ones privacy when others can troll your life without you knowing any better, and make subsequent judgements in such a passive aggressive manner (online)- followed by a “lol” as if it softens their judgemental blow!
    I don’t know how other people handle surgery or childbirth- but when I am preparing for a major surgery (c-section) to welcome my child in to the world- I have a few weeks of extreme panic and fear of death and leaving my family. I have an extended edition of seeing my life flash before my eyes! What legacy am I leaving? What will my children, husband and family remember about me if I don’t make it? It’s a shitty feeling- but also very helpful in checking myself before I wreck myself.
    I desperately needed a refocus, re-framing, and reboot for my spirit! This book and blog really helped me see what seem so obviously the important things in life and also what had become my unintentional distractions from my children and “real” life relationships. Feeling spiritually recharged and peaceful- ready to welcome new baby into our family! I wanted to share how much this book helped me

  35. 64

    Susan says

    I have been reading your posts on msn.com and now I am sitting in a computer lab with my students and crying big, silent tears. I am the hurry up and yelling mom you talked about and am certain that I am missing out on their childhood. I am determined to become a hands free mom and will definitely be getting your book. My biggest goal is to be a work at home mom and let go of being a theatre arts teacher – which includes 11 – 12 hour days. Have you any advice as to how to maybe approach this? I would really appreciate it!
    Thanks! Kalley and Morgan’s Mom! (Susan)

  36. 66

    says

    Hi Rachel,
    I found your sunscreen blog on my newsfeed this weekend and it really hit home. I had a basal cell tumor removed in October of 2013 and my sister just had her 2nd and 3rd basal cells removed this past week. I posted it to her FB, only to hear back from her in surprise! She works with your husband and shared how he glowed about how proud he was of you at their last meeting! I do believe I discovered your page for a reason. I, too, will be attempting to a hands free mama! I will be job sharing a kindergarten position next school year so that I can slow down and actually be present with my children, before it is too late! Wish me luck! I am looking forward to picking up a copy of your book!
    Melody Hill (sister to Michelle Nelson)

    • 67

      says

      Oh I love it when people connect with me and we realize it is in deed a small world! Thank you so much for sharing the sunscreen post and affirming its importance. I cannot wait to tell Scott that we connected. Much love to you and Michelle!

  37. 68

    Andreina says

    Dear Rachel,

    I can’t wait to read this book. I think you are amazing by presenting what is the most important thing in life. Caring, loving and keeping peace with others.

  38. 69

    Ashley says

    Hi Rachel I just read an article someone on face book shared, which led me to the link to your page. The article/blog was called “the important thing about yelling”. I was drawn to this aritcle as I have become a yeller and am ashamed to admit it. I have a 6 year old step daughter and 9month daughter. I don’t mean to yell but I guess I get so stressed out wiht so much going on that I feel its the only way I can express myself. I found your article very helpful and am keen on making changes in my life to better myself for my family, so now am off to buy your book!!
    Thanks so much for the inspiration of your article i look forward to reading your book :)
    Ashley, from NZ (New Zealand)

  39. 70

    Beth MS says

    Congratulations on your book!
    I just read your article about yelling on the Familyshare website. Thank you so much for sharing. I had tears in my eyes when I got to the part where your daughter showed you empathy for your lost chapters. I have also been working on my yelling. It’s how I was raised and I know it’s wrong, but it’s hard not to do. I am trying very hard to control it and there are bursts of it from time to time. Two days ago, we were in the middle of a heatwave and I am 8 months pregnant and the last thing I wanted to do was to be running around after my 3 year old. I lost it when she ran off instead of washing her hands. On our way back to kindergarten, she said, mama, please don’t shout at me. She looked so sad and lost. I said I’d try if we could make a deal: she would try and listen and I would try not to shout. We’re both working together. And I feel confident we’ll get through this. Long post to basically say THANK YOU for giving me more courage to keep working on my anger.

  40. 71

    mary says

    I am the grandmother of a 7 yr.old girl who is so emotional and whines and cries allot. My daughter is very frustrated with her behaviors. I try to offer a helping hand by offering her some advice on her diet and her attitude towards my granddaughter. I feel that her time on the phone,her negative response towards her, the fast food, candy diet that she feeds her, has allot to do with my granddaughter’s behaviors. Please help me, I am so sad to see my granddaughter so unhappy and my daughter so stressed.

    • 72

      says

      Mary,

      Rachel often refers parents to me for advice and invited me to respond to you.

      In your comment it’s clear that you wish the best for your daughter and granddaughter, and are worried their health and their relationship. When I saw that your daughter was frustrated, it occurred to me that it’s probably as hard for you to watch her frustration with her daughter as it is to experience your own frustration with her (your daughter).

      When you see your grown children doing something you know isn’t good for them, and they won’t take your advice, the two choices seem to be to offer more advice, or sit back and let them fail. Since neither one is a good choice, frustration results.

      Instead, the thing that works is pointing out your daughter’s good intentions. For example in the case of the sweets, what is your daughter trying to do for her daughter, or what does she wish she could do? Probably, she is trying to make the child happy. That’s your first point of agreement.

      Since acknowledgment feels supportive, and advice can feel critical, saying, “You know she likes sweets, and you want her to be happy,” will start you off on a different foot. Continuing to listen to understand your daughter’s intentions and acknowledging her efforts will take you the rest of the way.

      For example, if she says she gives your granddaughter sweets because they work quickly, and you were to reply, “In your hurried life, that’s important to you,” without needing to defend her actions, your daughter would then have the chance to share with you her own wish that there were something else that would work instead. That would be your opening to offer suggestions without sounding critical. Advice is always welcome when it is requested, and not before.

      If you keep this up, your daughter may eventually become open to advice on slowing down and building her relationship with her daughter, because those are two things all parents want. At that time, you can share Rachel’s book and blog posts with her like this one which contains this great advice for building a child’s spirit: “I celebrated [my child's] efforts rather than the outcome and strived to speak three times as many positive words than negative ones.”
      http://www.handsfreemama.com/2014/05/20/to-build-or-break-a-childs-spirit

      My book “SAY WHAT YOU SEE” would give her additional insight into her daughter’s behavior and give her three simple tools to use to end whining, turn rough moments around, and build her relationship with her daughter quickly and easily. When she is ready, she can read the online version free from a PC or MAC (not mobile) or order her own copy:
      http://www.languageoflistening.com/resources/read-swys-book/

  41. 73

    Criztina says

    My heart is breaking for the kids growing up in a world so set on technology that they cannot remember the basic human interactions. My daughter started high school this week and one of her teachers insisted that each kids had to have instagram (which we do not do) and a smart phone was needed to do it (which my kids do not have)…I have a flip phone and even my husband is not connected…ONLY one cell phone in our 5 people family.
    I have to explain to this teacher that she will have to do it another way. I am praying there is another way.
    She was unable to do her first day of homework in Spanish because she was too embarrassed to point out we don’t have these things….(by choice).
    I also pray my daughter gets the courage to own who she is and why we choose not to be so tech connected. Your book is amazing…just wish more people would read it so we could connect with people more.

  42. 74

    Rosana says

    Hello Rachel,
    I write you fron Spain, i would like to read your book. Is there a spanish version of Hands Free Mama?
    Thank you

Trackbacks

  1. […] Technology has led to the discovery of vaccines and medical treatments. It has brought computers and televisions into people’s homes, and it has provided us with electricity, the Internet, phones, cars, planes, and much more. But an argument can be made that technology has largely worsened the quality of our lives, polluting the air, making our lives needlessly stressful, and dampening our enthusiasm for what really matters. […]

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