Friday, May 23, 2014

A "Hands Free Mama" Book Review...mostly

The end of January was the beginning of a personal growth journey for me. I spaced myself from Facebook and I worked on getting organized. I also bought the book Hands Free Mama by Rachel Stafford. I started reading it some time in February and two nights ago I finished it. 

She recommends doing one chapter a week and really digging in to the challenges within each chapter. I did some combination of that and reading several chapters at once because life that's why. There would have been a time when I would have been bothered by the fact that I wasn't reading it "right", which says a lot to me because it's just a book; there ARE no rules to reading books. I realized as I read this book though that it would not be the only time I read it. I wonder how many times I will read it before my first child starts school and how many times before my last starts school...before they finish school.... It will become a tattered looking and well-loved book.

I can't recommend this book enough, honestly, but with that recommendation is another to not read it only once. If you are a mom in the Facebook age then odds are you know the draw that website has. Especially if you are a stay at home mom. Interacting on FB sometimes becomes the way we got to socialize with adults that day....if we let it be the way we socialize with adults that day. Cell phones still make calls. Neighbors still live next door. 

This book is not a quick fix, which is WHY she recommends reading it slowly and really diving in and doing the work. And this is why I will be re-reading it however many times. This first time through, certain things jumped out at me and spoke right to my soul. The next time I read it I fully expect other things to speak more clearly to me. We can only handle so much information at once, we can only change so much. There was also a time when I would have stressed out about the fact that after reading the book once I wasn't completely changed or that I didn't remember everything I read. Good gravy woman....and I used to wonder why I don't feel like my normal fun goofy self the past two years. I think too much and don't "just be" enough; that's basically why. 

I literally praise God for helping me in that area, especially the past couple weeks. God's helping hand, Rachel's book and a program of study with an amazingly gifted coach has brought me to a place where I have found "the old me"! It feels so.good! Yesterday, I had the best day I have had, physically and mentally, in longer than I care to admit. And we didn't go anywhere special, we didn't do anything special...I didn't receive any special or exciting news (in fact if anything I received some kind of crappy news). It was a run of the mill day at home with my two little guys and it was one of my favorite days in a really long time. 

I had no personally placed and uneccesary weights on my shoulders. I just let go and let be. I stopped thinking about my time table and relished the perfect timing of God. We ate yummy banana pancakes with strawberries then went outside for 2 hours and enjoyed the energy and healing of the sun, listened to the birds, got wide eyed and looked all around when we heard a plane then get even more excited when we saw it and we waved, we played with the water table and got very wet, we came in and ate lunch then played with a train set and laughed and "beed silly", we looked at books and yes we even watched TV, "Mickey Ouse Bubhouse" is one great show you know!

Those are the days I want more of and will have more of! I will still have days where I feel like I didn't hit the mark but I'm human so I'm allowing myself grace on those days, at those times, instead of just beating myself up like a big huge bully. I have embraced this journey and look forward to learning more each time I read the book and each time I repeat the program with my coach ("tanks coach!" Cool Running, anyone?). 

I started writing this post not long after I woke up and had to stop and center myself and tap into "that place". It's a place where if my kids wake up before this is done, it's no big deal. A place where I check to see what weights I have on my shoulders right now and if they actually need to be there before I get out of bed. A place where, after the basic needs are met a.k.a I'm sure that the mom me can take a breather, the kid me comes out to play. It's a place where I remember life doesn't have to be so serious and there's really not nearly as much as I thought that NEEDS to be done aside from keeping my kids alive (have you met our 'Dozer??), filling our bellies and being there for them while they still want me to be there. I started clearing the day of most of things that I thought I needed to do and replaced it with observing each of my children throughout the day. Moments of active was like I had new eyes. From features on their face to the way they interacted to the way they solved a problem...on and on. If you ever found yourself to be a "people watcher" and haven't watched your littles with the same curious observance you really should give that a whirl!

So here we are with June right around the corner. Back at the end of January when I started my "personal growth" journey I had a goal of being "mostly" balanced by the end of the year because I anticipated that if I really did this, it would take some time and practice. I was just going to say that I feel like I'm "on track" for the most part...but then that implies that there's some specific point to be at at a specific time. Humbug. That's old me thinking. See? No quick fix. A lot of stopping to be aware what's going on, aware of what thoughts are being entertained...and then a big part is not judging whatever is discovered. Just more observance, more awareness and then a choice. Life changing I tell ya! Therefore instead of saying I feel on track, I will say that I just feel good about where I'm at on the journey. I know that I'm right where I'm supposed to be and I will stay where I'm supposed to be as long as I'm being honest with myself and "doing the work". 

It's been a great year! Even with some pretty low lows on the Rachel says, "the truth can hurt, but the truth heals." Amen sister! And I thank you again, Rachel, from the bottom of my overflowing heart! (P.S. My oldest, who just turned 4 about a month ago, embraced before bed "talk time" instantly! He LOVES it! And oh my, so do I.)

Anyone who hasn't read the book yet, I highly recommend that you do. And I also highly recommend buying it, reading, and re-reading it until it falls apart. You can also check out her amazing blog here:


  1. I just added this book to my wish list! Thanks!! :) I can't wait to check out: Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy from the library next week.

    1. Ha! I have that one too; haven't read it yet!