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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!
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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!

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  2,030 Ratings  ·  340 Reviews
“Rachel Macy Stafford's post "The Day I Stopped SayingHurryUp" was a true phenomenon on The Huffington Post, igniting countless conversations online and off about freeing ourselves from the vicious cycle of keeping up with ouroverstuffedagendas.Hands Free Mamahas the power to keep that conversation going and remind us that we must not let our lives pass us by.”

--Arianna Hu
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Zondervan
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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i thought this was just dreadful. i was not previously familiar with the author's blog. i read the subtitle & thought it sounded like something i might enjoy. but i was wrong.

so many things are wrong with this book. it purports to be a kind of memoir/guide to reassessing your priorities & maximizing your relationships with your children & other people that matter most in your life. sounds legit, right? but i didn't know that zondervan, which published the book, is apparently a christ
Jan 06, 2014 Deborah rated it liked it
(3.5 stars)

As a long time reader of the Hands Free Mama blog, I had high expectations for the book. I devoured the first fifty pages, eager to see how the blogs would be expanded into a fuller, more comprehensive look at living more in the present and less in electronics, the past or the future.

After about fifty pages, this became a harder read for me. I felt like I'd already gotten the gist of the book, but was having it reiterated for me with slightly different examples. Rather than reading a
May 02, 2015 Kelli rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-fiction
I couldn't wait to read this book after reading her viral blog post. The post resonated with me. I wish I could say the same for the book. While I do think it is brave of the author to continually (and I do mean continually) point out her parental shortcomings (namely the two years she missed of her children's lives because she was addicted to technology, distracted and overcommitted), the book was not the guide it purported to be. It was more like a collection of blog posts and stories that see ...more
Mar 16, 2014 Aga rated it did not like it
I am sorry to write it but the book is helplessly boring and gives no practical advice except for the one between the lines to be rich enough to be a stay-at-home mom who can afford not to be in a hurry and have fun with her kids. Plus it is quite depressing like the goodbyes need to be meaningful because we may never see our beloved ones. Also the time should freeze because only when kids are so little they are precious and soon they will be adults and all of this fabulous life will perish.
Jan 07, 2015 Amanda rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm not sure what to say about this. I think the key thesis - live your life now, be with the ones you love - is good. It's certainly worth thinking about. But this book is a big fail for me. For one thing, as far as I can tell she says the same thing in every chapter. Read the intro and you're set! Also, the whole thing is so laden with regret and guilt. She seems to feel that every moment of stress, distraction, or preoccupation was a terrible sin. And that leads to my final major criticism: s ...more
Mar 14, 2014 CJ rated it it was ok
I like the way this author writes her blog, but many blog entries do not make a book. It is far too repetitive. We, as readers, understand her point after the first example. And, yet, it feels like she is still holding back - trying to protect an image while admitting that she - like all of us - is a work in progress. And, if we all focused on our own families instead of working or volunteering in order to catch magic moments, society would suffer and so would our children as a result. The balan ...more
Andy Kerckhoff
Sep 04, 2015 Andy Kerckhoff rated it really liked it
This book is a must read for the moms who struggle with busy schedules, perfectionism, and wanting to have it all / do it all everyday. Stafford does an excellent job of exploring the problem that so many parents face - how to balance family life with all the responsibilities and tasks of everyday life. She tells stories, shares poems, and enlightens the reader with her hard-won wisdom. She is a recovering type-A mama, and I am sure that there are millions of women like her whose lives are less ...more
Apr 20, 2015 Kandice rated it did not like it
You know the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Although I should probably follow Thumper’s advice (Bambi, 1942), I’m not…

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! has been peeking out at me at the library, various blogs, Facebook, etc. Although no one whom I was following had read it, they had intentions of reading it. So I took the dive. Sadly, it was i
Dec 31, 2013 Jacki rated it really liked it
So, I’m an internet person. I was a teenager when the internet was “new” and I jumped on board and didn’t look back. I have good friends who live in my computer and honestly some of my closest friends are “internet people”… so when I jumped on the smart phone train, I was in it. You know what I mean. The panicky feeling when your phone isn’t touching you, the times spent in front of a glowing screen when you could be building your marriage, that constant need to be “connected”… I was there. When ...more
Leah Colbeck
3.5 There were things I wholeheartedly agreed with, encouraging and inspiring things and beautiful things. Overall also a slightly elitist perspective which rubbed me the wrong way. I wanted her 'message' which is basically to be present and not miss out on your own life, to be described in ways applicable to those not of her social and economic standing as well as her own.
Feb 23, 2015 Eileen rated it it was ok
I skimmed the last two chapters...enough with heaping guilt on myself. Good to read a book that encourages me to analyze the quality of the time spent with my family, but a little over the top on being present every moment your kids are.
I feel bad about the rating, because I really hoped to like this book. This is a book that (allegedly) has a yearlong implementation plan, but honestly, it is redundant enough that you can easily get through it in a couple of weeks. Or days. This is a book from a blogger-turned-writer and it suffers in the usual ways (redundancy, unrevealed backstories, lack of continuity).

I wish she'd described her watershed moment that encouraged her to start paying attention to her kids. Like, was it a car cr
Laura June
Dec 28, 2013 Laura June rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I’m not sure when this book came across my radar but as soon as I saw the title I added it to my “To Read” list. Being a working mama to 2.5 kids who is highly engaged in social media, sometimes to my own chagrin, I often find myself struggling to find the right balance for myself and my family. This is where Stafford’s book comes into play.

Stafford is a self-proclaimed perfectionist do-it-all mama who realized a few years ago that she had lost herself to her endless to-do list. She found that
Gina Crosley-corcoran
Feb 17, 2014 Gina Crosley-corcoran rated it did not like it
I only got half a chapter in before realizing this wasn't my cup of tea. The author is a mom who decided she was spending too much time online. So she solved that by creating a blog and a Facebook page where she tells everyone else to get offline. Huh!? It's also heavy on the god stuff so if you're a non-believer like me, you'll find that a little tough to get through.
Apr 14, 2014 Traci rated it it was ok
While I enjoyed the overall message of the book: stop trying to look like a perfect mom and be the mom you want to be, I had all sorts of problems with the way it was presented. I am really starting to hate blog-to-book books because I think the problem is that in general blogs aren't the equivalent of books; they are the equivalent of magazines. For most of this book I felt like Stafford was wasting my time (a particular problem in a book about prioritizing time). The focus is less on the reade ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
I have finished Hands Free Mama – for the first time. I knew not long into it that I was going to do a breeze through reading, and then really read it, implementing as I go. When I first read Rachel Stafford’s blog some time back it spoke to me. I saw myself in Rachel. I am the person who is overextended. Who says yes to way too many things because I feel obligated, or responsible, or guilted. Who spends way too much time checking emails, answering texts, following social media. The person who m ...more
Jac (For Love and Books)
Dec 20, 2013 Jac (For Love and Books) rated it really liked it
I’ve been a long-time reader of Hands Free Mama, a fantastic blog about what really matters in life. (Seriously – Rachel’s got a great way of putting things in perspective!) One of her posts that really resonates with me is “How To Miss a Childhood” (Which is actually how I found her blog – it appeared on my facebook feed one day!) and also, The Important Thing About Yelling.

Anywho, when her book – Hands Free Mama – came across the screenon Netgalley one day I immediately requested it! And let m
Lucille Zimmerman
Jan 04, 2014 Lucille Zimmerman rated it it was amazing
Have you ever rushed through a day, wishing you had spent more time being present with your child?

Have you ever raged in-proportionately for the circumstance at hand? For instance, when your child spilled something or wouldn’t hurry? Maybe you realized you were taking your own feelings of inadequacy out on your children.

Rachel Macy Stafford is delightful young mother who realized she was creating an environment of stress, and hurting her children in the process, because of her own Type A nature.
Jun 25, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
So good! Before I read this book I thought that I was pretty ok in the area of "distraction" / social media etc - I don't do Facebook, Twitter, I've eased up on Pinterest and I have about 10 blogs in my reader BUT this book was a real wake up call for me and I would definitely consider it one of the most impactful books on parenting that I have read. It made me realize my own personal areas of "distraction" and I fully plan (and have started already and noticed huge benefits) to put into action ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
I felt sad while reading this book. Sad that we live in a day and age where books have to tell us how to put down our phones and enjoy life. Sad where our lives ARE our devices. After reading this book I am happier more than ever that I don't have a smart phone or any device that I carry with me. With that said, it has helpful advice for people like myself who find themselves vegging out in front of the computer more than they would like to.

I quit reading the book half way through. It's too simi
Jun 19, 2015 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Needed this!

Such great examples of what it means to put other things ahead of the most precious people in our lives. Thank you for writing these words to help me and so many others connect with those we love!
Aug 16, 2016 Chantel rated it it was ok
I have to admit, I couldn't continue to read her guilt laden parenting methods any further and just read through the 'hands free intentions' at the back of each section, instead. I made it about half way through this book before I got tired of her twisting the premise into raising entitled and spoiled kids... So the basics of this book is how to put down your phone, stop living enslaved to your to do list and societies idea of perfection and hold on to what really matters - because your kids are ...more
May 09, 2016 Ashley rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this. While I truly appreciate the message of the book--choose your kids over housework as much as possible; your phone/to-do list can be a distraction--but I found several off-putting problems.

First, I found her tone weirdly extreme. Shrill and hysterical at times, this was not a mom who had found freedom and joy, but one who seemed to be constantly berating herself with guilt and shame. For instance: "If zoning out, being on autopilot, or popping in a DVD have become part of
Dec 10, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Such an excellent read for any parent who needs a little extra reinforcement to stay in the moment. I'll be keeping this close by to remind me to refocus and remember what is really important.
Angela Olsen
May 30, 2015 Angela Olsen rated it liked it
I think the only way I made it all the way through this book was due to the fact I was listening to the audio version. As others have mentioned, it feels like a collection of blog posts, which I may have enjoyed more by simply reading her blog. The ideas became quite repetitive, though they were good to hear the first time they were mentioned. She offers the idea of reading just one chapter each month & applying the ideas presented, but I feel that is a lofty idea more appropriate for her co ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Ada-Marie rated it it was ok
Meh. At best, this book is a reminder to live your life in accord with your priorities (children, husband, family, etc.), and be mindful of the distractions that derail those priorities. At worst, this book is just another way for mothers to feel guilty about taking time for themselves and a platform for a self-promoting, narcissistic, and now mediocre-turned-super-mom blogger to talk about herself. It seemed that each chapter was a regurgitation of the first. My least favorite parts were when t ...more
Jan 21, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
Back in December I read an article online titled, "The Bully Too Close To Home". Sadly, I saw myself. I found a link to Rachel's blog and started to read. Tears filled my eyes with every blog post that I read. She was honest, real, flawed, and I could totally relate to her.

"Hands Free Mama" arrived on my doorstep on January 7th. I gobbled up every page. I quickly learned to read this book with a box of tissues, highlighter, and pen. Every page has markings of some sort. I have told several of m
Apr 01, 2015 Katie rated it it was ok
I had read a bit of the blog so I knew what to expect. SO much connecting with the children. When does anyone get a connection free moment? The premise is good -- but down your distractions and pay attention and connect with your kids. But it just went too far for me. At some point it has to be OK to just turn on some music in the car. Or have some silence.
Pam Camel
Dec 30, 2013 Pam Camel rated it really liked it
It was a good look at how being plugged in all the time is harmful. We may think we are connected but really we are missing real life. She has some great suggestions for unplugging. Such as start with just a short period of time. A hour even just ten minutes. Work your way up and think about what is really important. I liked her story of the canceled swim practice and the kids reaction when mom said we have nothing to do. Instead of rushing a round the yah d fun even if that fun included cleanin ...more
Sep 26, 2016 Aniesa added it
I can't decide how to rate this book. Parts of it border on schmaltz and are not my cup of tea. On the other hand, most of it rings loud and clear. The messages are important, and remembering them changes my days for the better multiple times a day. I am glad I read it.

This is a book I will pick up again and again for some inspiration, for reminders of who I want to be. But I will skip the poems. I suppose that sums it up.
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Five years ago, Rachel Macy Stafford admitted the honest answer to the question that had been a long-time source of pride: "How do you do it all?" Rachel's answer was painfully simple: "I miss out on life, and what I miss I cannot get back." That very day, Rachel began her Hands Free journey to let go of distraction, perfection, and societal pressure to grasp what really matters in life. This life ...more
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“Being responsible for someone’s childhood is a big deal. We not only create our own memories, but we create our child’s memories.” 8 likes
“THERE WILL COME A DAY . . . There will come a day when she no longer wants to hold my hand. So I will hold it while I still can. There will come a day when she no longer tells me what’s on her mind. So I will listen while she still wants to talk to me. There will come a day when she no longer says, “Watch me, Mama!” So I will observe and encourage while I still can. There will come a day when she no longer invites me to eat school lunch with her. So I will join her while I still can. There will come a day when she no longer needs my help to bake cookies or hit the tennis ball in the sweet spot. So I will stand beside her gently guiding and instructing while I still can. There will come a day when she no longer wants my opinion about clothes, friendship, death, and heaven. So I will share my views while she still wants to hear them. There will come a day when she no longer allows me to hear her prayers and her dreams. So I will fold my hands and absorb every word while I still can. There will come a day when she no longer sleeps with her beloved stuffed animal. And that day may come sooner than I think. Because sometimes unexpected events happen, causing the days to rush by, the years to tumble ahead. Sometimes what I thought I would have time to do, Like listen to her laugh, Wipe her tears, Breathe her scent, And hold her close, Will no longer be available to me. What I thought I had all the time in the world to do, May no longer be an option. The little pink dog that my child must now learn to sleep without after eight precious years reminds me that tomorrow may not allow for all the things I planned to do. So instead of being too busy, Too tired, Or too distracted when she seeks my love and attention, I will be ready and waiting To make her a well-loved child While I still can.” 4 likes
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