Update on our Hands Free Mama challenge

Working, playing, parenting, volunteering. It gets to be too much. Time to focus on what's important, supermom.
(Dayna Smith/for The Washington Post) Working, playing, parenting, volunteering. Time to focus on what’s important, supermom.

Last month I wrote about my late-night emergency room trip, and how it inspired me to follow Rachel Macy Stafford’s example and take the “Hands Free Mama” challenge. I’m trying to say no to things outside the home so I can spend more quality time with my family. Instead of constantly checking my phone and worrying about staying on top of the laundry and dishes and other household tasks, I’m sitting down and playing with my two kids more.

We were featured on Good Morning America, in a story about Stafford and her book, and the need for parents to let go a bit, so it’s the perfect time to check back with an update on how it’s going so far.

I’ve had some successes — and some failures — in my attempt to be less distracted and rushed. The successes? Incredibly rewarding. The failures? That’s okay, I’m human.

On a recent snow day, I worked from home while my kids, ages 9 and 7, were out of school and daycare was closed. They are old enough to entertain themselves for the most part, but that doesn’t always happen. They did a decent job of letting me get my work done this time. When evening rolled around and we were finished eating, my husband planned to take them out for some moonlight sledding. Pre-challenge, I would have stayed inside and cleaned up the dinner dishes, folded laundry, signed homework folders, organized backpacks and clothes for the next day, whatever needed to be done.

I decided to go sledding instead. The look of shock on my daughter’s face when I told them I was coming out to play would have been funny if it hadn’t been so heartbreaking. I’ve been so busy for so long that it was inconceivable to her that I was going out to play. That was confirmation that I was making the right choice.

We suited up and headed out to the backyard with our sleds. We slid down the hill and trudged back up at least 20 times before making our way back inside. As we walked in, my son stopped, pointed at the snow falling, and said it was “raining sparkles.” We stood there and watched the sparkles in the light from the house for a few minutes. It was what Stafford calls a “sunset moment,” one of those uniquely beautiful experiences that I will treasure forever. Who cares that the kitchen was a mess?

I still have a long way to go. I’m checking e-mail more than I would like in the evenings, and I still rush my children more than I should. I have to remind myself to say yes when they ask me to abandon responsibilities and play. But I’m getting there, slowly.

Are you trying to do less, or live hands free? Tell us about your strategies and experiences in the comments.

mari-jane.williams@washpost.com

@marijanewilliam

 

 

 

 

Mari-Jane Williams covers parenting and family issues for Local Living and schools for the Prince William and Loudoun Extras.
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