To the Drill Sergeant in My Head

Written by Rachel Macy Stafford, The Hands Free Mama 


Before I began my Hands Free journey, I pushed and pressured and rushed my way through life until I became too busy to breathe. I became too stressed to laugh. I became too distracted to see the precious moments slipping right through my multitasking fingers. Through a painful revelation while out for a run one day, I realized I was missing my life—the best parts of life. I decided to take small steps toward change. I created designated times to use technology so it no longer consumed my time and attention. I lowered my standards from perfect to good enough. I stopped trying to do it all and made sleep a priority again. I began putting my family, my health and my happiness back on the priority list. It’s been three and a half years since I began my Hands Free journey. I have not been cured of the Disease of Distraction, but I have made significant progress. I live in today, rather than putting life off for someday. I know my children and my spouse as unique individuals. My smile and laugh have returned. Living Hands Free has not only become the practice of my life but is now a necessity. Like food, water and air, I need it. I want it. I crave it. Connecting to what (and who) matters is what I live for each day. But it is not always easy. Technology, responsibilities, deadlines and the pressures of daily life are always tapping me on the shoulder, beckoning me away from what matters most. And when I take time to rest, relax, play and simply be, my inner drill sergeant yells, “There is no time for this!” Three and a half years ago, I would have listened to that demanding voice. I would have jumped up in the name of productivity, perfection, validation and people-pleasing. But now things are different. My Hands Free voice drowns out the drill sergeant, and here is what it says. May these words help you let go and live a little today. To the Drill Sergeant in My Head

If I don’t have time to cuddle that warm, pajama-clad body with glorious bedhead first thing in the morning, If I don’t have time to press my lips upon the cheek of the man I love at nighttime, Then I have to ask. If I don’t have time to call my aging parent for a quick check-in, If I don’t have time to offer a smile to the weary cashier at checkout, Then I have to ask. If I don’t have time to listen, really listen, to what my child has to tell me from the backseat of the car, If I don’t have time to tell her all the things I love about her from the edge of her bed, Then I have to ask… What DO I have time for? Clearing the inbox Scrolling the newsfeed Cleaning the kitchen counter till it shines? Buying things I don’t need Saying yes because I can’t say no Filling my days till my calendar overflows? I have to ask… What do I think makes life worth living? I know. I know. It’s the pajama cuddles, It’s the nighttime kisses, It’s knowing I said “I love you,” just in case my dad’s ripe old age catches up with him today. It’s the dandelion bouquets, It’s the uncontrollable laughter, It’s the worries my child confesses at the most inconvenient times. Today I refuse to be too busy, Too rushed, Too impatient, Too distracted, To experience these moments—these moments that make life worth living. Today I will not place life’s most pressing matters over the moments that matter most in life. Because if there isn’t enough time to truly live, then I need to ask myself what I am living for.  

Rachel is the New York Times best-selling Author of Hands Free Mama. She resides in Alabama with her husband and two daughters, who inspire her daily. You can join her on her journey to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter at