Lovely image by Vivienne McMaster. Click image to learn more about Vivienne.

You’re at a restaurant. The wait appears neverending. Of course, naturally, your whole family takes out their gadgets — not to find the menu, or the reviews, or how to get to the next destination — but to surf or play games.

You know, anything but talk to each other. Anything but wait. Anything but do nothing. Anything but sit in silence. Anything but …

Or, you’re at home and everyone is bored to tears so you grab your iPhone and your son grabs his Nintendo DS and your daughter grabs her LeapPad and your husband grabs his iPad.

Now everyone feels better. Now no one has to look at each other. Now no one has to try and get along.

{I’m not really talking about YOU by the way.}

I’d love to remember just how I “met” Rachel Stafford. One thing led to another and I ended up on her blog, Hands Free Mama. Immediately, I fired off a comment or an email to her saying that I thought we might have a few things in common. She agreed. We’ve become fast Virtual friends.

Rachel and I take slightly different approaches to saying basically the same thing: We only get one precious life to be with our family so let’s not waste it. Rachel’s mission is to provide people with the inspiration, motivation, and tools to let go of daily distraction so they can grasp the moments in life that matter and live more meaningfully.

In this Awesomely Awake world, we appreciate that we will be distracted with life’s many amazing, wonderful things but that we must make a very clear intention every single day to put the Live in Living first and foremost so that we can teach our children how to really, really live fully during their one, wild precious life. It’s about moderation, really. But isn’t everything?

Another fab image from Vivienne McMaster. Click image to find her!

Rachel agreed to an interview here and I’d like to highlight what I learned from her interview by using her words to create a list of how to TRY to lead a distraction-free life:

DESIGNATE MEDIA TIME: Rachel says, “I have approximately seven hours each day when my family is not home. Those are the hours I write and work online. I also utilize time in the evening to work once my family goes to bed. I will be honest, I seldom “get done” everything I want to do in a day, but that is a pressure I have learned to let go of – the pressure to “do it all,” which almost cost me everything I hold dear.”

BAKE TOGETHER: This tradition started when my oldest child was two-years-old and she helped make her own birthday cake. I was amazed at how much she could do to help, and before we knew it, she was even cracking eggs! Our baking tradition has evolved into our family’s favorite way to express kindness and appreciation to people in our lives. Every holiday, we make goodies to package up and give to others as a way of saying “thank you.” We include people inside our inner circle of family and friends, but we also strive to include people who provide services in our lives like the trash collectors and mail carrier.

GET OFF THE SIDELINES: I have gone from watching my children play to being part of the action. In the past eighteen months, I have done things that I haven’t done in decades. My kids delight in seeing me ride a scooter, slide down a grassy hill on a cardboard box, do a cannon ball into the pool with goggles on, climb a mountain of dirt, and pet a snake. I have never seen my kids laugh and smile as much as they do when I step into their world.

JUST TALK: When my oldest daughter was three, she asked for “talk time” at the conclusion of her bedtime routine one night.  We have continued “talk time” nightly for the last five years. During this sacred ten-minute period, I get to hear what is on my child’s heart and mind. She shares everything from what happened at school to what she wants to be when she grows up. She asks questions about everything from what she was like as a baby to what would happen if I die.

PLAY TOGETHER: One summer we did a simple science experiments together. We ended up inviting a few neighbors over for the weekly science lesson, and it became quickly became the highlight of each week. I used a book I discovered on clearance in the back of a craft store entitled, The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions. The ingredients were often things I had around the house and the steps were easy.  What I most enjoyed was hearing the children “hypothesize” about the expected outcome of the experiment and then watching their faces as the results unfolded – pure excitement, wonder, and delight! Who knew creating foamy paint, peanutty play dough, fruity lip gloss, and a crystal rock garden would lead to laughter, connection, memory making, and learning?

GIVE BACK: Our family is passionate about helping children in poverty situations. For the past four years, my family has helped me conduct a community-wide event where children in our neighborhood learn about what it means to live in poverty and fill empty shoeboxes with needed items. The shoeboxes are sent to children in impoverished countries through an organization called Operation Christmas Child. Each year my family seeks to educate more children in our community and touch more children with a shoebox gift than the year before. My daughters hope to surpass last year’s community total with a new goal of 500 lovingly filled shoeboxes for children in poverty. Luckily, my daughters are “planners extraordinaire” just like their mama and have already begun brainstorming ways to create more filled boxes.

Learn more about Rachel’s journey to grasp what matters on her blog or through “The Hands Free Revolution” on Facebook.

Learn more about Vivienne McMaster and the photography courses she teaches online here.

Rachel with her two lovelies