It’s easy to be busy. Most of us have become so consumed with what needs to be done that we end up drained and depleted at the end of the day. When you're speeding down the freeway, rushing to get from Point A to Point Z, you're draining your resources. What would it be like to enjoy the ride? What if everything you did came from a deep place of replenishment? Of knowing that when you care for yourself, you are continually refilled? Of having an understanding that whenever you make a decision, you are choosing to create your life in the smallest of ways, in little acts of love that rejuvenate, restore, and revive you?
Hybrid mothering isn’t about what you drive. And doesn’t have anything to do with your carbon footprint. What it is about is braking. My husband Bill bought a Prius about a month ago and, a few days later, I drove the family to Merced and back for my nephew’s graduation from UC Merced. I was easily distracted by the dashboard on the Prius. The most engrossing part was the Energy Monitor, the image of the car with dotted lines and arrows going from the wheels to the electric motor to the battery and from the engine to the electric motor and the wheels.
When you brake a hybrid car, the battery recharges so you can go farther on your tank of gas, thus needing to refuel much less often. Even when you simply ease up on the gas pedal, you replenish the battery. In a standard car, you can only go so far on a tank of gas and whatever you do will continually drain your resources.
So how can you make changes in your day-to-day life so that you parenting like a Prius - braking more frequently and recharging your internal battery, especially with small children, a demanding job, and all of the responsibilities that follow you like an overloaded trailer? You don’t need to stop completely, just touch your foot on the brakes every now and again or ease up on the gas pedal. Here are a few suggestions for quick activities to charge up your battery ...
Take three deep breaths
Bring your attention to your feet on the floor to help you to feel grounded
Savor a few sips from your cup of tea
Admire your children while they sleep
Eat your lunch away from your computer
Put on some music and dance, with or without your kids (my favorite dance song these days is Come & Get It by Selena Gomez)
Sing along to the radio
Text a girlfriend
Record your favorite comedian on the DVR and watch a few minutes
Say “Let me think about it”
“Let me think about it” are the most powerful words that you can learn to say regularly. This statement lifts your foot off your accelerator and buys you time to truly think about whether baking three dozen cupcakes by tomorrow for your daughter’s preschool feels “shackles on” or “shackles off.” Author Martha Beck describes shackles on as the feeling of being trapped and chained. In your body, shackles on might feel like tension in your neck, a heaviness in your shoulders, or tightness in your chest. Your throat may feel closed up or your breath may become more shallow. Stress, resentment, or anger are shackles on. Shackles off always feels like freedom.
It is okay to say no. Really. If you need practice, find another version of no that feels more comfortable like “Not right now,” or “My schedule will be more open after I finish this monster project at work,” or “I can pick up cupcakes from Safeway but I’m not going to have time to bake.” As long as your answer feels like freedom, like lightness, openness, and happiness, you are nourishing your essential self, the part of you that will lead you to your most joyful life. Saying no - and easing up on yourself - is just as necessary as regular maintenance is for your car. And aren’t you ready for a little tune-up?