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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! [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Macy Stafford
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $8.99
You Save: $7.00 (44%)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing

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Book Description

“Rachel Macy Stafford's post "The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up" 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 our overstuffed agendas. Hands Free Mama has the power to keep that conversation going and remind us that we must not let our lives pass us by.”

--Arianna Huffington, Chair, President, and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books


If 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 God-given moment.

Editorial Reviews


“Rachel Macy Stafford’s post, “The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up,” 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 our overstuffed agendas. Hands Free Mama has the power to keep that conversation going and remind us that we must not let our lives pass us by.”
— Arianna Huffington, chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books

About the Author

Rachel Macy Stafford has been providing readers with simple, non-intimidating, and motivating methods to let go of distraction and connect with their loved ones. Since starting the blog “Hands Free Mama” in 2010, Rachel’s work has been featured in USA Today,,, The Huffington Post, and Reader’s Digest. Her blog currently averages one million visitors a month. Rachel lives in Alabama with her husband and two children, who inspire her daily. Hands Free Mama is her first book.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1322 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0310338131
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 7, 2014)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031033814X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310338147
  • ASIN: B00DL10HF8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,728 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
174 of 185 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not that helpful as a parenting book January 27, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really like this blogger and was sure I'd like her book so I pre-ordered it. I still thank her immensely for her contributions, but I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. Page after page reminded me to be present to my children, without any concrete suggestions on making time for other things that also make my life meaningful (other friends, outside hobbies, a fulfilling career). Also, a lot of the message seemed aimed at parents of school age children (example-do your phone/computer work when your kids are in school and turn these things off when your kids are home). Perhaps I was in a cantankerous mood when I read it, after a 14 hour shift of solo childcare for a four and one year old, but the message of "treasure every moment" didn't sit well with me. While it is a helpful reminder that these years go quickly, I was hoping for a little more balanced message about being a devoted mom AND a person with important outside interests/work, as I know the author is. Wish she's shared a little more of that. Just how did you write a book, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and not ignore your kids in the meantime!?!
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138 of 153 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many fluffy adjectives and not enough substance February 3, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really really really wanted to like this book, but I just don't. It's not so much a guide as it is a compilation of personal anecdotes about moments the author enjoyed with her children "hands free." And as a mother, I find the credibility of these moments to be questionable. Or maybe it's just the other moments that are missing - the real ones - the ones that all parents experience that aren't sparkly and quiet and loving and fun. The book is seriously lacking in reality. If I took the book at face value, and adopted all her suggestions, then I would never have time for sleep or for myself. I would be spending all my time (all 3ish hours I get with my kids after work) gazing into their eyes, and snuggling with them on the couch, and kissing their sweet smelling heads (which would require me to give them a bath), and letting them help me make the salad for dinner, and talking about each and every paper in all 3 of their school folders all the while postponing "unnecessary" tasks. Then I would read them extra books at bed time, and give them an extra snuggle, and then come down stairs to gaze lovingly into my husbands eyes while we have a meaningful conversation or sit together to do something that doesn't involve watching television and THEN I suppose I would tackle all those "unnecessary" tasks like dinner dishes, lunch packing, and laundry. But, according to Stafford, I am also supposed to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. And none of this even accounts for my kids' mood at the time. Her children are seemingly perfect, because there is no mention of how to gaze into the eyes of a first grader who is having a melt down because she is tired. Read more ›
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110 of 138 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Didn't Speak to Me. January 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
My first exposure to this author was a piece in the Huffington Post called : The Important Thing About Yelling and I really liked it, so when I saw Stafford's book on NetGalley, I went for it.

This book wasn't great, but it wasn't awful either. It just kind of ... was. I know that 'meh' isn't an incredibly helpful review, nevertheless, that's what I feel about this book. I don't know if I've been overindulging in these types of parenting/lifestyle change books, I don't know if it's because I'm reading The Happiness Project right now, where I feel much more connected to the narrator, I don't know if the market is just saturated right now with 'let go of the little things and live for what's important!!!!'-type advice books... I suspect it's a combination of all these things.

The narrator didn't speak to me. Which is odd because I suspect we're from the same little corner of Alabama, ... except I'm not really from Alabama... I wasn't prepared for this book to be religious. But page after page I was smacked in the face with the phrase 'God given gifts' and praise and thanks to god that made this book come across as more religious than secular. That's fine, but it wasn't what I was expecting or looking for.

The tone of the book was better suited for a blog rather than a whole book, the author uses no empirical evidence for her theories, nor does she seemed to have done any research into studies on better child-rearing, etc. All accounts are strictly personal and anecdotal. There are a few key phrases that crop up in the writing way too often, it made the writing seem a little lazy, like the author couldn't be bothered to think of a different phrase.

Again, this book isn't bad, it just wasn't for me. I think that there are too many other good books on this topic out there.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands Free Mama February 8, 2014
Before I got the opportunity to check this book out, I found myself in many situations where my child was looking at me and I am looking at the phone, I mean I gotta check emails and blog and oh my I gotta check Facebook at least 3 times a day! It only took the first chapter of this book to encourage me to change. Now I put the distractions down, watch a movie with my daughter, sit and listen to my boys tell me about the games that have their attention or just look at their faces and shower them with hugs and kisses!
Although my kids are teens, they still want mama's attention and it hit me while reading this book that my kids are at the age where I better take the opportunity to spend time with them without distractions because it won't be long and they will be finding their wings and leaving me. I have a few years, but that's just it, only a few years and they will be adults embarking on their own lives and my opportunities will be fewer.

"The choices I make mean everything.
Because it is in the moments that I choose what matters over distraction that I make lasting connections and beautiful memories with the people I love. I realize there will come a day when those loving human connections and beautiful memories will be all that I have left. So in the meantime, I choose to keep running ahead - running toward what really matters and not looking back.
There will never be a finish line. But there is something far better.
Every single time I let go of distraction to grasp what really matters, I am embracing life.
And life will embrace me back."

As I think about young mothers these days, I feel blessed that when my kids were little, I didn't have a computer and wasn't on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram and I spent so much time with my babies.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by Heather
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book!
Published 3 days ago by Lorena
2.0 out of 5 stars The author's "perfect" life made it difficult to relate
I wanted to like this book, but I struggled to relate to the author's "perfection." It seems that once she started living hands-free, her life became easy, her children... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Justin Noelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful read!
This book helped me remember to make the most of those special moments-- to create memories for my family!! Read more
Published 12 days ago by Amy Schoenherr
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good reminder!
Nothing particularly deep or out of this world different about this book, but oh my goodness what an amazing reminder of what matters most! Read more
Published 14 days ago by KPug
5.0 out of 5 stars The Only Book I Always Leave On My Nightstand!
I bought this book as a book club read since it wasn't available in our library yet. After (tearfully) finishing the book, it literally changed the way I parent. Read more
Published 15 days ago by H. K.
5.0 out of 5 stars a great reinforcer of what REALLY matters!
This was a fun read that helps remind busy moms to stop and be present! We all have so much going on, and our littles are growing up too quickly. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Melissa
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying
This is a great book for anyone who's feeling overly connected but not sure how to do anything differently. Read more
Published 26 days ago by A. Luedke
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many dramatic personal stories about her children
I loved the concept but struggled through this book. Too many long, drawn out, overdramatic stories that all emphasized the same point -- you miss out on priceless moments with... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jen
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing!
This book spoke to me on a personal level as a woman who has struggled with perfectionism and trying to do it all. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amber Stewart
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More About the Author

Three 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-long writer and certified special education teacher felt compelled to share her journey with others through the blog, "Hands Free Mama." Using her skills as a writer, teacher, and encourager, Rachel provides readers with simple, non-intimidating, and motivating methods to let go of distraction and connect with their loved ones. Rachel's work has been featured in USA Today,,,, The Huffington Post, Reader's Digest, and hundreds of other online and print publications. Her blog currently averages one million visitors a month. Rachel loves being outdoors, baking, and doing acts of kindness for those in need with her husband and two daughters who inspire her daily.

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