Hands Free Mama: A Book Review

 

 

2 out of 5 Stars

hands free

I wanted to like this book, really, I did. It came so highly recommended, I thought it’d be life changing since so many other moms were saying it changed their lives. It was not life changing. In fact, I found the entire book useless and obnoxious.
So, hey, you decide you want to live “hands free” and put down your phone and computer and really be present. So, what is the first thing you do? Start a blog? Start a Facebook group? Write a book? No? Oh, well, I wouldn’t either, but this author did just that. Took a personal conviction and made it into a movement. Still not sure how that freed up her time. I guess she just felt less guilty about writing a book about limiting her commitments than she felt about the previous commitments. Baffling to me, really.
A lot of this stuff just didn’t apply to me. Not that I have it all going on, we just don’t all struggle in the same ways. I’m a homeschool, stay-at-home-mom. Clearly her drive to school issues will never be my issues. Clearly her “spending time with the kids” issues won’t be my issues. So some of her advice would just be bad advice to someone not in her predicament 100%. Example: She scolds herself/you (hard to tell with this one) about turning on music in the car and wanting to not talk to the kids in the car. She decides to be the “fun mom” and make every drive an opportunity to exert herself in entertaining and engaging her kids. Whatever, it works for her. It would not work for me. #1- I’m not a fan of distracting myself while driving around a full van of kids. #2- I don’t feel the need to entertain my kids in the car. #3- I spend plenty of time connecting with my kids, since mine are with me and not at school the majority of the day. #4- There is zero guilt in turning on some relaxing music and letting the littles just nap in the car.
She used the phrase “If there is anything I have learned…” a million times. Well, it was short of a million, but enough that it started driving me crazy every single time I read it.
Several of her good points were not original. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter were better than anything else on the pages. And much of the decent, worthwhile advice, I am certain I have heard in other places.
This book moves so slowly. For someone short on time, she really does use an awful lot of unnecessary words. She waxes on and on about the same dumb point endlessly. Honestly, the whole book could have been broken down into maybe a couple lengthy blog posts. She spends an awful lot of time just talking about nothing at all, it seemed.
She places significant pressure on moms to make everything for their kid magical. Life just isn’t like this. Sometimes chores and just chores and there is no bubbly musical montage moment in there. A lot of Mommy guilt could be heaped upon my head for having a less than Disney Magical Moment multiple times a day with my kids. In fact, most of this book is a giant Mommy Guilt bomb.
I tried to keep in mind where she is in life. She’s a mom of 2 out of the home schooled kids. That isn’t my life. She isn’t juggling the needs of 5 kids. She isn’t juggling a toddler or baby right now at all. Her perspective was simply a lot less helpful for me than I anticipated.
She is super sappy. Ridiculously so. Many, many pages of stories that are just dripping in saccharine sweet nonsense. She also seems to live her life in a very terrified place. “My kids may never walk back in…” “I may never get the chance to hug them again…” Is this some kind of new Mommy YOLO that I’ve not been privileged to encounter?
She kept saying, “The truth hurts but the truth heals.” However, she wasn’t offering much truth. In her over sentimentality, she lost almost everything she was trying to say. Most of the book was just fluffy vagueness.
“Is there anything that can’t wait until Monday on your schedule?” Well, actually, yes. That is why we have a schedule. Ballet only happens on Tuesday. The kid’s birthday only comes one day a year. Church happens to never fall on a Monday.
I understand that we need to live for today. Much more eloquent people than I (and Mrs. Stafford) have said that better. But there is a major fault in only living for today. In always living thinking you’re going to loose everything at any moment. You can grasp the thing so hard you crush it. Mrs. Stafford, I think, was heading in the right direction in her thinking, but came to all the wrong conclusions and sticking points. We need priorities. We need to live intentionally. Mrs. Stafford is all hung up in the nit-picky little details of it all and is still stuck in the web not seeing the big picture. Rachel Stafford needed to be present in her life, but she also needs direction. You can be busy without ever really doing anything.
You don’t get bonus points for doing what is needed when your kids are sick, hands-free or not. We all have to stay up all night with a sick kid sometimes. That is no indication of being on the “correct” path or journey.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. I would hardly call the author an expert on what she’s written. She wrote a book based on her popular blog and stuck and cute Pinterest worthy cover on it and now you buy it and she gets money. That is about all there is to this story. The book makes several contradictory points, mostly because, I assume, Mrs. Stafford’s head is full of these same contradictions. This is a book of someone who has been through this trial of being overly distracted. This is a book about someone who is still sorting this out, and missing much in the process.

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