Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hands Free Mama - Deliberateness - Chapter 3

Welcome to my blog series based on the book "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford.  

If you are just stopping in for the first time you can catch up by reading my previous posts via these links:

Today I'm sharing from Chapter 3 entitled, “Choose What Matters – Deliberateness”.  

You can either read my post below or watch/listen to the video {3min 40sec} where I'll read it to you.

I love how Rachel starts each chapter with an inspirational quote like this one:
At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.”  – Dr. Lee Jampolsky
This chapter just might be the one that stands out to me the most.  She gives so many ideas on what we can do to connect with our kids more.  I had no idea how many opportunities I was missing.  One example was time spent in a doctor’s waiting room.  I have pulled out my phone far too often while I expected my children to sit patiently beside me.  Since I read this book, I use these moments to engage with my children.  At our doctor’s office, they have a mat on the floor with letters and numbers.  I did math facts with the boys while they hopped on the answer.  I did animal trivia with them and they had to hop on the first letter of the answer.  Ie. "This is a bird that can’t fly but runs very fast."  O for ostrich.  It was a fun time for all of us and I think it brought smiles to the other people waiting too.

Rachel had some great ideas like having a bag specifically for waiting rooms.  I want to put together one using those activity and word search books we have floating around, note cards to write thank you or thinking of you cards, small toys that the kids don’t use that often, a deck of cards, etc.
The point is, there is a better way to spend that idle time.  I honestly never thought about it! Yelling at your annoying kid while you are entertained on a gadget is not fair!  I won't do that anymore!!

We say that spending time with family is important to us, well I say I should prove it!  Our kids grow fast and I know I don’t want to look back on these years with regret.  I feel like I am an involved Mom but Rachel gave ideas on how to be engaging in ways I hadn’t thought of before.  She pointed out the difference between sitting on the edge of the pool watching kids swim verses getting in and swimming with them.  So I choose to get in more, even when the kids play well and don't need me.  

I think swimming with them,
building sand castles with them,
coloring with them,
doing cartwheels with them,
playing basketball with them,
playing board games with them, etc all add up to happier, more connected memories than if I was just watching.  My problem is that I’m the photographer and I find myself observing my family playing more than I play with them.  I want to become an active participant in my children’s memories rather than sitting on the sidelines with a cell phone in hand.      

I want to add one more thing that wasn’t in the book but advice received from a lovely woman I know with amazing grown children.  Nancy Shelburn once told me to be sure that my husband and I get in family photos TOGETHER.  Now that the kids are older, I ask them to take pics for me.
A family trip last year to the Lego Discover Center in Boston, MA.
I think that is great advice for everyone!  My family isn’t just the kids, it’s all of us.  I try to take group shots when I can even if they aren’t perfect!  I'm sure the kids will enjoy looking at these one day!  I just ask the group to pose and snap.  I get what I get.  haha!  So there you go a bonus tip you won't find in the book!

So this week I am being more deliberate and investing in my children's lives.  Love this book for all the fresh ideas, especially since they are on summer break!!!

What fun thing do you love doing with your kids?

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

My son's bedroom makeover

I redid my son's bedroom last year but neglected to post about it!  Here is a very late peek at his room make over.

When we moved into this house, his room was dark red.  It actually worked well with the aviation/patriotic theme I had in our old house so kept it as is.  I also liked the dark walls because they were great for napping kids.  But it was just too dark as my boy got older, and the white carpet was terribly dirty and stained despite me cleaning it.  I finally got annoyed enough to update this room!

I freshened up the room with a lighter coat of paint from Home Dept.  I had to go and get it darkened because what appeared on the wall was not what I thought it was!
Click to enlarge.
It had primer in it so I was able to get the blue over the red in ONE COAT!!!  One coat people!!!  That's amazing and I will DEFINITELY buy that kind again!  {Behr Marqee Enamel Interior Paint}

Here is his finished room:
I did a collage wall of things he likes which I mostly found at Hobby Lobby.  I have a cubbie shelf from IKEA for his Lego masterpieces.  I updated his light switch cover and installed laminate wood floors from Lumber Liquidator.  I also put all his clothes in his closet since he doesn't have a dresser.  I use a plastic drawer organizer for simplicity.

I love how it turned out! Brighter and a little more put together.
I still have a few finishing touches to do but for now it's functional and makes me such much happier when I enter this space!

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hands Free Mama - Connectedness - Part 2 of 12

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.  When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Welcome to part 2 of my 12 part blog series.  Feel free to read the post or watch the video below where I read it to you.  The content is the same in both the writing and video except where my husband distracts me.  haha!  So pick your preference.  

Welcome back to my blog series where I am sharing some valuable things I’ve learned from an amazing book by Rachel Macy Stafford called “Hands Free Mama”.  Today I’m sharing from chapter two:  “Make Purposeful Connection – Connectedness”

Last week {read here} I shared how I’ve been convicted lately and some ways I’m trying to be more intentional in connecting with my family.  When I’m living with this intention I’m absolutely more content and happy.  I feel less distracted and more present.  I smile more!  I love this quote:
“When you take time each day to grasp what really matters, distractions of the digital age cannot sabotage your relationships, your dreams, your memories, or your pursuit of a present and joy-filled life. {p.36}
That’s right! I am not just letting the days pass in survival mode; I am enjoying life more!  And I dare say, my family is enjoying me more too.

Would you be brave enough to ask your kids how you could be a better Mom to them?  Can you imagine their response?  This is exactly what Rachel suggests doing!  She started a journal that is passed between herself and her kids.  I think this is a great idea if you don’t have talkers or if your kids might be intimidated to give you feedback.  She asked her kids for constructive criticism.
“The truth hurts, but the truth heals – and brings me closer to the person I aspire to be.” {p.38}
My kids already say that I am on my cell phone and computer too much.  Although I limit my technology time and try to use as a tool and not for entertainment, my nose is still online far too often.  Even with KNOWING this truth, I still don’t always make wise decisions.  That is something I need to work on a little more this week, especially since the kids will be on summer break!  Just look at my face when I'm zoned out.  Not so friendly looking!  
“living Hands Free is not about being perfect; nor is it about being hyperfocused on the people I love.  It is simply about making a conscious effort each and every day to connect.” {p.39}
Rachel says to tell the kids that you’re trying to change.  Kids are REALLY good at keeping us in check!  In fact, my kids love telling me I’m wrong!  Ha!  So they are the best support in all this!  I'm scared to do this but I will.  I will tell my kids that I won't be on the phone at all between supper and bedtime.  I am going to start there and then figure out boundaries for other times of day when they're on their summer break.
“Is whatever you’re doing on the phone really more important than the human being at your table?” {p.43}
This doesn’t apply to only the kids but to marriage too!  I know that when I ask my husband how his day was I often half listen.  Partly out of boredom if he goes on and on sharing details of things I’m not familiar with or interested in {haha – being honest!} but mostly out of rudeness.  I am not giving him the full attention I often demand from him!  Oopsie.  Talk about convicting!
“I realized I need to continually evaluate whether my wi-fi connection is taking precedence over my marriage connection.” {p.45}
I hate when my husband is on his gadget in the car.  He always calls shotgun!  Anyway… when I tell him how I feel, he has replied many times that if I want to talk, he’ll listen.  But the problem with having his nose in a gadget is that he'll never INITIATE the conversation.  

Likewise, hanging out at home, both in our gadgets... no one will start talking because we're both entertained.  This has been a problem in my marriage for far too long.  There are days when we literally don’t talk about much.  This is dangerous because a distance WILL grow if we don’t nip it now.  I love that Rachel brought all these issues to the surface so I can be aware and intentional with my man!  After all, when the kids are grown, it'll just be the two of us again, Lord willing.  And I genuinely like the guy!  xoxo

Going back to the car, Rachel talks about driving in the car with your family and how so many families are each doing their own thing.  Kids with movies and/or headsets; parents with music or podcasts.  Nevermind parents who text or talk which can be dangerous!  She outlines so many ideas of how to initiate conversations with your kids in the car so you can use that time to connect.  I love how this book gives such practical advice!   
Rachel says:
“I am simply the messenger on this Hands Free journey, and it is by the grace of God and four little carpool girls that I have this message to give. If zoning out, being on autopilot, or popping in a DVD have become part of your drive-time ritual – consider this tragedy: * conversations that will never happen * concerns on your child’s heart and mind you will never hear * smiles in the rearview mirror you will never see” {p.49}

I've been working on this one awhile and it’s been hard to make this change in the car.  The kids fight more without the movies.  They talk over each other and interrupt.  Sadly this just shows me that I haven’t been so good at training and guiding them to be polite so we are actively working on conversation manners.

I realize as I type this, many people might not connect with my words or even care about these issues.  If you feel at all disconnected with your family then please check it out.  I highly recommend this book because I’m sure there are other points that Rachel brings up that might apply to you better than my personal take away.  {Here is a great post} from Rachel that I found to share with you after reading it in her book.  It offers incredible perspective of what we could miss out on because we know time flies!

I also liked this poem which called “The Inner Dialogue of a Child” which hit really close to home and made my heart weepy for my kids.  I want to be better for them!  And it made me weepy for all the kids growing up utterly neglected because of “helpful” technology.  Oh if we could all wake up!  I pray the changes I make are lasting too!

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hands Free Mama - Awareness - Part 1 of 12

I recently finished a book that I had been reading on and off for months called “Hands Free Mama”by Rachel Macy Stafford.  I love to share book reviews here on my blog but this book was so much bigger than a quick summary!  I’ve decided to do my very first blog series, taking you through the book and sharing what I’ve learned, going chapter by chapter.  

{It's impossible for me to share all that I learned so these are just highlights.  Please, please get the book and follow Rachel's blog if you have any desire to spend more time IN life and OFF your phone!  She is soooo inspiring!  Ugh... just look at my face above!  It's so miserable looking and that's what my kids see?  I don't want them to remember THAT!}


I’m doing this, not only to share but also for my own records!  This has been so convicting to help me live better and I hope someone else might grow from this too, plus I want to read it again anyway!  With summer coming, I want to spend QUALITY time with my children and be a better example for them!

The book is called Hands Free Mama with this on the cover: “A guide to putting down the phone, burning the to-do list, and letting go of perfection to grasp what really matters!”  Personally I’d call it, “Paying attention to people around me”!!  It’s about engaging in purposeful connections, {p.45} and no longer living distractedly. {p.69}  

It’s not about making you feel guilty for using a cell phone; it’s about being intentional about when you are using them, and when you are not.  

I want to stop this halfway living I feel I've been doing!  I'm tired of being distracted!

I have been trying to live more intentionally for some time but this book pointed out what I need to work on… things I glossed over and ignored.  Things I accepted as modern living, and some things I honestly had no idea were an issue.  Why oh why do I seek to be entertained by the internet when there are people right in front of me willing to talk and spend time with me?  I claim I love my kids and husband more than anyone else in the world but why am I consistently choosing others over them?  I have NOT been giving my family the best of me.

Just in the introduction, I realized that I was very distracted by many things – mostly online.  I need to address the issues I have {ie confess them} and ask God to help me focus on things that really matter.  I actively need make effort and change the way I live each day.

Chapter 1
“Acknowledge the cost of your distraction – Awareness”

Welcome to part 1 of 12

What I learned
I had a persistent feeling of unease because I’ve been living so distracted. {p.19}
Going “hands free” doesn’t mean giving up technology.  It means controlling when and how much you use it.  It means giving life a conscience effort. 

I love this book because she gives actual tips on how to be more focused and intentional and got me thinking with questions like: “What daily distractions prevent me from being fully present with the people I love?  What actions can I take to reduce or eliminate one or more of these distractions?”

I am definitely distracted by social media especially Facebook!  It has a weird time-sucking feature I can’t figure out!  Ha!  I decided to change how I use it in two ways:
 1) It’s not good for me to simply say that I’ll go online when my husband’s at work and the kids are at school.  I want to get things done around the house while they are gone.  Then, when they are home, I can give them my rather than catching up on things I could have been doing earlier. 
2) I realized that the time between supper and the kids’ bedtime is very precious to my family.  This is really the only time in the whole day we can all truly connect.  So my husband and I are working at being completely gadget-free during that time.  It’s much harder than you’d think and it’s only a short 1.5 hour window most nights.  But we MUST give our kids full attention; they don’t raise themselves!  Rachel helped me see that far too often, my body was present but my mind hasn’t been.  And you know what?  Just about everything that distracted me was not urgent and could wait.
{I shared a little extra observation about this family time in the video.}

At the end of each chapter there's a section she calls “Reflection Questions”.  My favorite for this chapter was “Have your distractions taken an undeserved position on your priority list?”
I realized that the things that became automatic were distracting me from life with my kids. 
I want to watch movies WITH them and not NEXT to them with a cell phone in my hand.
I want to listen to their stories without muttering “uh huh” and nodding while rushing them so I can get back to what I was doing.
I want to be a good example to them so when they get gadgets one day, they don’t treat me the way I was treating them! 

I love that this book outlines potential problems, ask self-reflection questions and gives ideas on 
how to be more intentional.

I hope that someone reading this might see themselves in what I’ve written.  If you at all enjoy this post, please share the link with others to spread the message.  I'm on Facebook and Pinterest {links are the ribbon tabs on the top right of my blog}.  

Please stay tuned as I continue and take you through the book chapter by chapter and share what I'm learning!  I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.  Truly.

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