One small change

Sometimes the kids and I have conversations about favorites. Favorite thing to do, favorite toy, favorite color… we discuss them all and regardless of the fact that the discussion typically ends with at least two of them arguing over who likes green more, I always hold my breath a little when they volunteer answers for me.

Please, please, please don’t say my cell phone. Please can the picture in your head of your mom not include me with a phone in my face.

Usually I can exhale because they say my favorite thing to do is play Candyland or make dinner which is mildly delusional but I’ll take it.

I’ve been reading 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 didn’t read the whole thing at once, I’ve read a chapter here and there when I need to refocus and remind myself that defeating level 176 of Candy Crush is not an important goal in life.

I like my phone and my laptop and being a blogger and a writer, social media is a huge part of my life. I don’t plan to give them up, but reading The Hands Free Mama did give me the reality check I needed. I’ve found parts of my day when I wasn’t focused enough on what is important and made changes. Not big, monumental changes but small shifts in what I do that make a difference.

My favorite change has been our morning routine. Before reading Hands Free Mama’s book, our mornings were a mindless routine of get dressed, eat, in the car, out of the car, pick up dropped glove, back in the car, drive home for forgotten lunch, rinse, wash, repeat.

I made a small change that made a huge difference. I turned off the car DVD player on the way to and from school. No automatic hitting the play button when we get in the car so the kids will be quiet and I can talk to myself. Initially there was panic. Where’s Barbie? What happened to The Chipmunks? Where are we? Someone let me/you/us out. 

But after a day or two we settled into a nice, no where near quiet, ride. Everyone was sort of bored with each other since we were all tuned in instead of focused on a screen or the running to-do list in my head so I had to do the work to keep the peace. Grappling to keep the subject off of who can drive who crazy first, I started asking questions. And I finally found a good one:

parenting change

What are you most looking forward to about your day today?

The answers came rolling in… eating lunch with Nathan… playing trains with Daddy… polishing my nails pink with purple. Some days the answers are predictable or not remotely going to happen (buying all the toys!). But some days the answers are ones I never saw coming but I can make happen anyway, a chocolate frosted donut after school or coloring two pictures just with you.

Five minutes of connecting and asking and listening has changed the course of our days. They tell me what they’re dreaming of and I see what I can do about it, as long as it doesn’t involve unicorns or clearing out a toy store.

So all of this to say, 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! is truly a book for every parent. Whether you’re ready to throw your cell phone in a lake and pull the plug on your laptop or you’re just trying to reduce your text messaging from “unlimited” to “not while I’m walking or talking to my children”, you can pick up this book and take a look at how your living and what you might like to change. A quick stop for donuts after school is much more rewarding than three more texts in a trail of messages that will never end.

What’s one thing you would like to change about your day to make you more present? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Hands Free Mama. 

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  1. says

    Definitely less “screentime” – for myself! My resolution/word for 2014 is “pause.” I’m trying hard to stop for just a moment when my kids ask me to do something and take a breath before saying “not right now” – so that more often the answer will be “sure.” And also trying to take a little time out each day to REALLY focus on them, whether we’re playing or reading a book or whatever. In the end much of this comes down to stepping away from the laptop or phone and giving them my full attention. I figure that if I can do this in even just small doses, it still makes a difference. At least, I find I am happier with how our days go as a result!
    Ellie {Musing Momma} recently posted..Pause. {My Word for 2014}

  2. says

    Love this. One of my favorite times in the morning is the drive to school. We always talk about what the kids will do during the day and what they think they will learn. Some days, they plan their upcoming adventures. I remember clearly a moment this summer where the two of them were planning an adventure to Mars, completely with pink jet pack for my daughter. Nothing better than that.
    Mom On A Line recently posted..Not Strong Enough

  3. says

    I would love to be more present in the morning. I am all about the hustle and bustle of getting us all out the door. I feel like a drill sergeant.

  4. Belinda says

    I would love to be more relaxed and stop stressing about what needs to get done. And spend more time connecting with my children. What a fantastic idea for the drive to school. We forget how simple life can be , if we allow it. Don’t we xxx

  5. says

    Thank you for this post. It is a great reminder to be more present – which is so hard to do with electronic gadgets everywhere. I would like to make nighttime cell phone/social media free. I think that might be too ambitious to start with so maybe I could declare bedrooms cell phone/social media free to start with. . .
    Lanie recently posted..Do you think the twins have been talking to ABC?

  6. says

    One thing I’m working lately is not being online during after-school time. Just focusing on my daughter & husband, playing, connecting after a day apart. I think it will actually make me more productive in the long-run, plus I feel like a better mama and they get some undivided attention from me. Would love to win this book, it sounds great.

  7. says

    I love it! One of the things I found that I was grateful for when we sold our minivan was the fact that the extended van doesn’t have a DVD player in it. I spend 20 minutes a day talking to my almost 13 year old daughter because of the drive to her gym. It has become really good time spent together. Sometimes we sing to the radio, sometimes she plays on her ipod, but mostly we talk about her day. My van is almost always loud and I love it!
    Stacey recently posted..Terribly two

  8. Sarah says

    I have given up games on my phone, but it is still pretty attached to me. I wish that I was better about incorporating the kids into the tasks of the evening. Instead letting them watch tv while I cook and clean, have them more present with me (without getting irritated).

  9. says

    Oh Jessica, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing how somone used a Hands Free tactic and applied it to his or her life. This was my hope for the book — that it would help people become a little more aware of how they can maximize those little moment between the busyness of life! Thank you for such supportive words about my book and for taking the time to write this beautiful piece about your experience. It means the WORLD to me. Thank you for walking beside me on this journey. I love that we can all grasp what matters in a way that is meaningful to us.
    Hands Free Mama recently posted..One Bold Move, Two Healing Words

  10. says

    Wait, you lost me at the part where your kids answered questions about their day without you having to bribe, badger or beat them.

    Last week I asked Anna what she’d say if someone asked her what Mommy does. She said, “Um, work?” I said, “What do I do for work?” and she answered, “Send emails!” So at least she wasn’t like, “You watch cat videos.”
    Suburban Snapshots recently posted..The Art of Appreciation