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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!

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  4,074 ratings  ·  593 reviews
Discover the power, joy, and love of living a present, authentic, and intentional life despite a world full of distractions.

If technology is the new addiction, then multitasking 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. Wit
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Zondervan
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  4,074 ratings  ·  593 reviews

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Start your review of 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!
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 christian imprint.
Jan 07, 2014 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
Jan 06, 2015 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
Jan 06, 2014 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 06, 2016 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
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Hands Free Mama has its good moments, but overall, it is repetitive (perhaps that's what a technology-addicted person needs?)and dramatic. Jim Elliot said it best with, "Wherever you are, be all there!" No matter how long we've been a parent, we must constantly remind ourselves to be in the moment and enjoy the passing little things. Distractions will always tempt us, no matter our level of technology use, and there is no rewind button on these years. However, Stafford takes being present to a l ...more
Mar 14, 2014 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
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
Apr 17, 2015 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
Andy Kerckhoff
Dec 21, 2013 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
Feb 04, 2015 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.
Mar 30, 2022 rated it did not like it
I don't think I've ever finished a book and thought to myself: WOW this author needs serious therapy.

But that's all I could think as I read Hands Free Mama.

It’s a great premise: make an effort to eliminate unnecessary distractions to focus on who and what matters.

As a mom who spends too much time on her phone, I thought reading this book might be good for me.

Unfortunately, this book is awful. The fact that she has a big following is actually scary.

First of all, the author goes on and on AND
Nov 26, 2013 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. ...more
Chelsey Crouch
May 15, 2020 marked it as abandoned-forever
I did not finish this book. I don’t think I’m the audience. Yes, i certainly am on my phone distracted at times but I already know the joy of experiencing special moments with my kids. And honestly the book just made me as a mom of 4 feel guilty as i don’t have the choice to just stop doing laundry. She says this isn’t what she means but then she paints a picture of just enjoying every second with your kids. And let’s be honest: every moment with kids is not enjoyable. I currently have newborn s ...more
Whitley Sander
Jun 04, 2022 rated it it was ok
Didn’t complete because it became really repetitive really quickly although I think the goal and overall point of the book is great — phones down, eyes up! 👀

A great reminder and if you need an extensive encouragement in this, may be worth the full read.

It is designed to be done through 12 weeks or 1 full year — each chapter holding a challenge/application to help assist you in less tech.
Laura June
Dec 09, 2013 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
Feb 26, 2014 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
Mar 03, 2014 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
Gina Crosley-corcoran
Feb 17, 2014 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. ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author’s style might be a little too syrupy for some, but I found this book life-changing nonetheless, full of practical, actionable advice that has already improved my relationship with my kids. I especially appreciated that she addressed how too much volunteer work can also lead to an overly busy, distracted life — that’s not a perspective I see in a lot of books.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book spoke the truth and hit me straight to my core. I shed many tears and guilt. But like Rachel said “the truth hurts but will set you free”. It makes you aware of where you are headed and what you need to change. I wanted to finish this boom before 2019, but I see it was meant to be finished today, on New Years Day. I want to start living on purpose. I want to enjoy the moments with my kids and spouse, not just what’s to be done on my to-do list. I want Sunset Moments. I want to know my ...more
Erin Fabish
Feb 07, 2022 rated it did not like it
Certainly a good reminder, but overall the book is pretty redundant.
Hannah Jayne
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
ah, could’ve read the reviews before borrowing this from the library. oh well.

this was a shallow christian read. yes, thank God for all of the precious moments that you’ll never get back, but no, you don’t deserve them and you’re not perfect just the way you are.

and dropping all of your responsibilities to do spontaneous and relationship bonding things cannae always be the best way to go. as other reviews say, you do still have to get stuff done.
Phoebe McDonald
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book last year and LOVED IT! A must read for mama’s in this day and age. Great reminders that life is not on your phone
Kellie Ashburn
Sep 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Please don’t waste your time reading this.
Apr 14, 2014 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
Aug 16, 2016 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
Jac (For Love and Books)
Dec 20, 2013 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
Jan 12, 2014 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
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The Hokey Pokey G...: February 2014 Book Discussion: Hand Free Momma 1 6 Feb 04, 2014 04:26PM  

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Nine 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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