Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hands Free Mama

I got this book for a very specific purpose. A purpose I won't let myself be ashamed of, because I know I am far from alone in this. Let me tell you I felt compelled to write this as soon as I finished it. I needed this. Badly. 

This book was written by an inspiring woman named Rachel Stafford. She runs a blog called Hands Free Mama. If you haven't checked it out you should head that way. Every now and then a post of hers would make it's way into my news feed and I'd read it and go on a guilt trip for a week or two. So when I saw that she had a book coming out I felt like it was something I needed to read.

The book talks a lot about busy schedules, the need for perfection, and daily distractions like your phone. I don't have a busy schedule. I cut that out at the beginning of the year and haven't looked back. So while I did read those parts I didn't feel like that was my issue of distraction. I am far from a perfectionist. If you could see my living room right now it could attest to this fact. Letting the toys lie in order to do something else is not a problem of mine. No, I got this book specifically the distractions of this day and age. 

Let me say I'm not alone in my house on this. We are both on our phones and Molly's love of all things iPad is just depressing. I know it could be worse, but I also know that could be an excuse. I get torn between feeling like I can't sit and stare at you all day and we should be doing more because hey I'm here. We're not the family that you always hear referenced that's at a restaurant and we are all nose deep in our electronic devices. We don't take them out at a restaurant. I don't spend every second on it either, but I do think it's too much. 

Almost every day monday through friday I edit a session. So that's two hours at the computer a day. I also return emails (which I'm terrible at). Let's give that 20 minutes a day. Those are things that have to be done. What I struggle with is the boredom. Ok stay at home moms burn me at the stake, but yes. 

I am not a Pinterest mom. Art activities take like 20 minutes so then what. Even my kids get bored of playing with me after a little while. I couldn't even begin to say what is harder between staying at home or working. I think they are both really hard. I can say that I feel like one of the things that is hard about staying at home is the pressure to be some super mom. Awesome lunches, planned activities, cleaning in check, crafts everywhere. 

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So what I would like to improve is this. Being more present. Letting go of being irritated. Not letting my daughter use distractions to make things easier. Getting out. Living in the moment. 
I think I have my strong points. There were things in the book that I feel like I do well with. Then there were things that hit so close to home it was hard to read. 

I have already started to make changes since I started the book. If I'm editing it's ok to stop and go back to it later. If my kids want me to see something or be apart of something walking away and going back is worth it. I've started to turn the radio off in the car. Instead we talk. Every night we have a cuddling session before bed. This past memorial weekend I got up and was present. I played. I kept conversations going. This week we've been to the pool twice. I want this summer to be full of experiences and I want to be 100% involved in those experiences. We've decided on Thursday evenings we will have no phones and no TV. Our first time was tonight and it was awesome. 

Things I want to improve are us all eating at the table. I have always been huge on that and I've had enough of me saying well when they are older and it really matters. It matters now. Seriously limiting iPad time. It's not Molly's iPad, but really it pretty much is. Sometimes I secretly hope it breaks, but really I should be teaching her how to find a balance. The trouble is I need to teach myself that too. Not sure what the limit will be. Maybe an hour a day? A reward system? I want to start shutting down my computer after I finish a session. I also want to shut off notifications on my phone and leave it in the kitchen. No more checking it because I can't even sit through a commercial break. Along those lines less TV in general. Background noise can be a life saver, but we could use more of our dance mix. 

I don't want to spend the next four years of my kids being home just sitting around. Sure we go places. We make things. But the balance is not there. Of course nobody is perfect. Doing this won't make me perfect either, but it's a damn good start. I need to stop complaining about the world we live in today and start making changes within myself. 

I will say this. When I get done having good quality time with my girls I fill like my heart is full. When I finally sit my phone down I fill empty and regretful for the time lost. I want my heart full. I want to be present. I don't want to be irritable when my girls need me because really I know I'm failing. If you have felt those things too I strongly recommend this book as a place to start. You know a book has good information when there are bunny ears everywhere. 

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