Over the Christmas break I was watching a Periscope where the lady listed Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford as one of the top 10 books she’d read in 2015. This is a lady who tends to read at least a book each week so I knew the book must be fairly good. I got it on my Kindle, and last week I began reading it.
The idea behind Hands Free Life is that we all spend too much time distracted by other things: our hand held devices, our to-do lists, our housework. The book is about learning to switch your phone off and ignore your chores, and instead pay 100% attention to what is going on in front of you.
I found this an incredibly compelling topic, as I do often feel like S and I have gone several days without actually connecting; I’m too busy trying to get her up and out the door, or home and fed and into bed, all the while answering my phone, responding to emails here and there, one or both of us watching TV.
Hands Free Life inspired me to try and live in the moment a bit more, and to put my phone down. I have begun switching it to silent a lot of the time on our days off together; I’ve always had a rule of not switching on the sound until I had dropped her at nursery in the mornings.
It’s one of those books where there’s something in every chapter that you can apply to your own life – and immediately, without cost. You don’t need to go on a course or buy another book or sign up to a mailing list; you can just make more of an effort to listen, to pay attention, to notice. To be present.
You might think you don’t need a book to tell you that, and you might well be right. But I found it very inspiring and a timely reminder that my child will only be this age once. Every day I have a chance to create a fantastic memory which will stay with her the rest of her life.
Other reviewers have criticised Hands Free Life for being too twee or too “American” – but I do think it carries an important message, and something we can all stand to listen to. Whether we have children or not, how many of us are so busy checking our Facebook feeds we forget to interact with the actual people all around us? It’s like when you go to a gig and people are watching through their phone screens – and you know that even if they do ever watch that video when they get home, it won’t be anywhere near as amazing as actually being there watching it, but they’re missing it just to have a video to post on social media later.
I would recommend Hands Free Life to anyone, but especially those of us with children. These moments are so precious, and even if you do think this book is too twee or “American” (I certainly didn’t) it still has an important message that we can all stand to hear.
Thanks for reading.