Living Intentional: Hands Free Mama


by Shannon Mangicaro

I read a lot, I read at least a little bit everyday, ideally more than a little bit, and over the years there are certain books that have really stuck out to me.  Hands Free Mama by Rachel Stafford is one of those books.  I read it last year and I remember the author brought tears to my eyes every time I picked it up to read another chapter.  It is just filled with so much that I agree with, so many reminders about what I want to be intentional about, how I want to be living life.  So when I saw she had a new book coming out a couple months ago I was excited to read it.

Hands free Hands Free Life

In both of her books she talks about the life she use to live where she was distracted and busy all the time, rushed, stressed, etc.  Then a simple moment with her daughter changed everything.  She realized how much LIFE she was missing out on while busy doing other things, things that she had gravely mistaken for more important things.  Her perspective is real and even tough to read at times, it’s made me sad for her daughters thinking of their life before she started her “Hands Free” journey, and then also makes me think “how often do I do that?”

In Hands Free Life, Rachel talks about how she began her “Hands Free” approach with just ten minutes a day to start.  Throughout her books she includes poems that she has written, here is one about how she set aside those ten minutes for what really mattered:

“Building a Foundation with the Best Ten Minutes

Within my day, there will be time for the Best Ten Minutes:

Ten minutes to accept the most important invitations: yes to walking along the edge of the

curb, yes to one more bedtime story, yes to face-to-face conversation…

Ten minutes to engage in activities that will better my life or the life of someone else, like

creating art, making music, or building up another human being…

Ten minutes to learn something new about the people who share my life, ten minutes to learn

something old in the pages of my grandmother’s Bible…

Ten minutes to give the best kind of love-undistracted love.

Ten minutes to take the best kind of leap-the leap of faith.

Ten minutes to tuck a lifeline into a suitcase, a lunch box, or the pocket of worn blue jeans.

Ten minutes to lift a shaky voice toward heaven or wear down rubber treads walking toward clarity.

The Best Ten Minutes of each day are building blocks of a solid foundation.

Through these life-giving investments, we are connected to what strengthens us, guides us, and

fulfills us.

What is built in the Best Ten Minutes can not be swept away in a storm, forgotten in a hotel

room, divided in a divorce, or missed after a move.

Soon the Best Ten Minutes will become the most important minutes of the day.

Watch them as they grow from minutes to hours to days to years, eventually becoming a life

worth living”    pg. 81-82

She takes the simple moments, the mundane days and reminds us that there’s more to it.  Small things can make a BIG difference.

Now more than ever it seems like everyone’s life is so busy, it is so easy to go through a whole day without making any real connections with the people you love, that is one of the biggest reasons these books pull me in so much.  I want more than anything to be intentional with life, especially when it comes to my family.

I don’t want to just make it though the day, through the week, I want to live in each moment, enjoy it, treasure the gifts God has given us (even during the hard times).  I  don’t want to just go through the motions of life checking off things on a to-do list.   I want to make the most of my time, to use it wisely, no regrets.

The word INTENTIONAL is almost like a life word for me, it is what I strive to be.  Because it is easy to get caught up in doing what needs done instead of slowing down and turning our attention to what really matters.

And this is why it is so important: (excerpt from Hands Free Mama pg. 78-79)

There Will Come a Day

There will come a day when she no longer wants to hold my hand.

So I will hold it while I still can.

There will come a day when she no longer tells me what’s on her mind.

So I will listen while she still wants to talk to me.

There will come a day when she no longer says, “Watch me, Mama!”

So I will observe and encourage while I still can.

There will come a day when she no longer invites me to eat school lunch with her.

So I will join her while I still can.

There will come a day when she no longer needs my help to bake cookies or hit the tennis ball

 in the sweet spot.

So I will stand beside her gently guiding and instructing while I still can.

There will come a day when she no longer wants my opinion about clothes, friendship, death,

and heaven.

So I will share my views while she still wants to hear them.

There will come a day when she no longer sleeps with her beloved stuffed animal.

And that day may come sooner than I think.

Because sometimes unexpected events happen, causing the days to rush by, the years to

tumble ahead.

Sometimes what I thought I would have time to do,

Like listen to her laugh,

Wipe her tears,

Breathe her scent.

And hold her close,

Will no longer be available to me.

What I thought I had all the time in the world to do,

May no longer be an option.

The little pink dog that my child must now learn to sleep without after eight precious years

reminds me that tomorrow may not allow for all the things I planned to do.

So instead of being too busy.

Too tired.

Or too distracted when she seeks my love and attention,

I will be ready and waiting

To make her a well-loved child

While I still can. 

The best kind of books are ones you think about long after you’ve read them, they are ones that make you think deeper, love stronger and are a better person because of it.  This is why I keep reading!

Connect with our friend Shannon

my blog,, and here I am!  Connect with me through Facebook as well through my blog page!

6 thoughts on “Living Intentional: Hands Free Mama

  1. People before things was a motto I learned in La Leche League when I had a baby who WOULD NOT BE PUT DOWN. He taught me to fully engage in every conversation with every child every time. Thank you for posting, Shannon, I love it and I am praying for you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am s-l-o-w-l-y making my way through Hands Free Mama. I was ready to devour it and then she asked the reader to go slow. So I am. Maybe a little too slow. Just the first few chapters helped change my outlook and a few of my habits. I guess Hands Free Life will come next for me, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve definitely gotten me interested in reading Hands Free Mama! As a fellow reader I love and agree with what you said here: “The best kind of books are ones you think about long after you’ve read them, they are ones that make you think deeper, love stronger and are a better person because of it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve heard of Hands Free Mama, but haven’t read it yet. I’m more intrigued now. What a beautiful reminder to make the most of our moments because it is true that they don’t last. Our kids grow up. Our relationships change. It’s good, but different. All too soon I will long for the days and wish I hadn’t been so busy with other things. Thank you for the refocus.

    Liked by 1 person

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