I'm Breaking Free From Distractions With Hands Free Mama
It's like a 12-step recovery program for distracted people and the first step was realizing that I let too many distractions enter my life.
Earlier this month I received a review copy of the book 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. I was already familiar with Stafford prior to receiving the book after reading several of her posts on The Huffington Post, such as “The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up,” which my husband initially shared with me.
I was really interested in this book because it sounded totally in line with my parenting resolutions. Even though I’ve let go of feeling guilty about allowing my children screentime, I’ve been feeling increasingly conflicted about my own. There are too many days where I feel too “busy,” but then wonder what exactly I accomplished with all my time online. I am finally starting to realize I’ve become addicted to distraction, and it’s affecting my parenting.
On the days I struggle the most it seems as though I am either too distracted throughout the day or I pushed back too many things all in one day in order to be present which then creates stress and panic of how I’m going to get everything done.
Working from home presents some unique challenges for me when dealing with distractions and balancing quality time with loved ones. Unfortunately, I’ve let it slowly take over too much of my time. It pains me to hear my 3-year-old daughter ask me to put my phone down, to close my laptop or to stop working so I can play with her. Every day, I set aside time where I’m unplugged (or at least very minimally checking for work-related alert notifications). She doesn’t quite understand that I still need time to work. I can spend half the day playing with her and her brother, yet she’d still ask for more.
The first chapter of Hands Free Mama is about awareness. Being aware of what distracts me from the people (and things) most important to me. Reminders that my young children are growing up fast and I don’t want to miss out on meaningful connections with them because I had to check one more email or social media account. Awareness that I desire a change.
I already set aside time each day where I’m not plugged in, but I’m going to be more intentional about it. Some days I may only be able to commit to 10 to 20 minutes, while other days I can spend several hours without my phone. The main times I (mostly) leave my phone alone are when we are getting ready in the morning and the time between dinner and bedtime. Sometimes I purposely leave my phone at home when we go out. Stafford writes,
“Living ‘Hands Free’ means making a conscious decision to temporarily push aside distractions and give your undivided attention to someone or something meaningful in your life.”
This is why I’m going to work on following and implementing the Hands Free Mama book this year. Stafford doesn’t completely shun technology, but sets up boundaries for it. That makes this movement realistic for me. I know I could not completely unplug and acknowledge that technology plays a large role in my life—and it’s not all bad. I just need to be reminded sometimes. It’s easy to look at this book and think, “But I need to do XYZ! I can’t just ditch everything everyday!” Except she isn’t saying you have to abandon your other responsibilities. There are still going to be things you must take care of, but we need to prioritize. We need to focus on the most important things and not worry so much about the could/should/would pressure from society.
I have not finished reading the book yet. I kind of thought it’d be a breeze to read through and I’d feel motivated by her story, but not necessarily compelled to change anything. Her book is a little different than I expected. It’s broken up into 12 chapters, each focusing on one aspect of becoming “hands free.” It’s like a 12-step recovery program for distracted people. She does share stories from her life to help illustrate the concepts. Each chapter also includes tips for implementing hands free living as well as reflection questions. In the introduction, Stafford explains that she wants this to be a resource book for people wanting help to live life with fewer distractions. She suggests focusing on one chapter a month, helping you transform over the course of a year.
It’s a work in progress, but I look forward to seeing how things have changed for us at the end of the year.
Have you read Hands Free Mama? What did you think?
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