Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hands Free Mama (Book Review)

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to my smartphone, I have everything at my fingertips: I can answer (almost) any question in seconds. I can connect with (almost) anyone I know at any time at all. And thanks to my smartphone, I never, ever, have to be bored again.

And yet, I, like many of you, have a nagging sense that this is a problem. I have a hunch, that connecting with everything and everyone everywhere all the time may actually have consequences for my relationships with those people who sit next to me on the couch, or who cry at my ankles while I “just post this picture real quick,” or who grab my arm when “I just need to reply to this one email, can you just WAIT?”

Rachel Macy Stafford, author of the new book Hands Free Mama is not just writing on a hunch. She writes as a friend, a mother, and a self-described “highly imperfect reformed yeller/hurry upper and recovering tech addict.” Her book is poignant, inspiring, and a must read for this generation, by which I mean anyone who spends a significant part of everyday “plugged in.”

This book is a book about distraction, and a call to everyone (especially mothers) to let go of the things that don’t really matter, so that your hands can be free to grasp what does.

Note on religion: Rachel’s book is sold at the Christianbook store, among other places, but I would not call this a specifically “Christian” book. Some mention is made of “God,” in general, but not Jesus. Rachel is writing to a wider audience in order to strengthen relationships and reorient people’s hearts towards home. Because of this, I place it in the self-help category, and I recommend it as a good, practical book for inspiration to change certain behaviors. However, please note that the Christian concepts of grace and forgiveness in Christ are lacking, as is encouragement to rely on God to truly change a person’s heart.

Personally, I have found this book quite helpful as I reassess the way I spend my hours. I am constantly called upon by my vocation as mother, and this in itself is overwhelming. Yet, how often do I add to that feeling of being overwhelmed simply by staying connected? While facebook might seem like a moment’s escape, and pinterest might promise to offer some fresh inspiration, I must ask myself, do they really? Do I use these tools to better perform my job, or do I let them distract me, overwhelm me, and even frustrate me, to the harm of those very people I claim to love the most?

I’ve read enough of Rachel’s works to know: she understands this struggle. She also struggles with slowing down, connecting, and grasping what matters. After I read her raw stories, and fed on her encouragement, I closed my laptop, looked my child full in the face, and said, “I’m so happy I’m your mommy.”

By sharing her story, Rachel draws the reader in, and urges us to consider our own stories. Will your child remember your lap as a place of welcome? Are you spending your time chasing what matters?

She does not demonize technology, and she wastes no time with this debate. Instead, she asks her reader: what must you do, or you will die?

Think on that for a moment.
What MUST you do, what do you absolutely have to do, or you will consider your life a failure, your days on this earth wasted?
Pin another recipe? “Like” a status? Share a funny ecard?

Or take an extra five minutes at bedtime to hear your child’s heart, to make them feel safe and loved?

As you consider your life in this new year, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Rachel’s book.

See also Rachel’s blog,

More posts on the perpetual technology struggle, by yours truly:

Mama, Can that wait?
Read, Pray and Hug before you Click
I didn't mean it (Screen Free Week)
Open Arms and Heart (Aggie, naturally hands free)

View all my reviews

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