The back to school season is a million feelings in one. Joy. Sadness. Optimism. Stress. Excitement. Guilt. A lot of this roller coaster of emotion depends on your personality type and how you handle life’s inevitable changes. A lot of you who have been following me for awhile know I’ve gotten really into the Enneagram and love using it to help navigate everyday situations and life. It really is useful and so funny when the predictions/descriptions hit home.
I thought it would be neat to break down how each personality type deals with back to school time and offer a little advice just in case you need it. Clearly, I’m not an expert, just an enthusiast. If you haven’t taken the test, there’s a short Enneagram quiz here that takes almost no time and identifies your strongest type.
The most important thing to remember here is that it takes all kinds. Not only is this great to learn more about ourselves and identify our own thought patterns and behavior as its happening, but we can perhaps be more understanding of those around us and value the input of other types.
So, let’s dig in…
Enneagram Type 1You take on the back to school checklist like a champ. Supplies bought. Clothes picked. Schedules ready. You. Are. On. It. You’re so self-disciplined and want your kids to be the same. “Tell the truth. Follow the rules. Be a good boy/girl.” Sound familiar? You’re the queen of responsibility and just need everyone to get on your level.
Don’t overthink what you have or haven’t done to prepare. You are awesome and doing an amazing job! Your friends value your insight and advice and so do your kids (even if they don’t know it yet). As you get settled into the new school year, try to relax and take one thing off your plate. During those precious after school and weekend hours, show your kids a more spontaneous side just for fun. Remember there’s more than one way to do things. Your efforts are good enough and the world will still go ‘round if you break from the routine just for a bit. You deserve it!
Just a guess, but do you love to hug? You are the fun, affectionate mom and your kids are better for all your positive reinforcement. You are so generous and have taken the time to really “get” your kids. You made sure they had an awesome summer, you know their fave lunch box treat and you’re helping do everything you can to prepare them for school each day. Did you really need to stay up late doing that one extra thing? Nothing is too much trouble for you.
But… You may be feeling suddenly protective and anxious about sending them off to be with someone else all day and secretly want them to miss you SO much (because hello, you are killing it at motherhood). You might be thinking: Does the teacher need a classroom helper? Should you sign up for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday?
Deep breath in, deep breath out. Remember that you will always be #1 and your kids know how good they have it with you as a mom. Your warmth as a mom is a great strength and you are loved so much. It can sometimes be draining to take on so much (and even feel overbearing to them), so use this back to school season to refocus on yourself. Maybe say no to one thing you don’t absolutely have to help with. Don’t feel guilty to serve yourself and remember you can be your own biggest helper.
Here’s yet another time to shine! You can conquer back to school season like a pro! You’re feeling optimistic and ready to take on the challenge of schedules, homework and even the car line. Speaking of… Why is this line not moving faster? Do you need to get out and show the people in front of you how to be more efficient? It’s not rocket science. You want to make sure this year runs smoothly and you know with your expert advice, your kids will blossom into the responsible and organized little humans you know they can be. Have you done your reading tonight? How about an extra 20 minutes just for fun!!
Keep in mind that while you have the ability to rock whatever you take on, you don’t have to do it all. That attitude is amazing for your kids to witness because hard work does go a long way, but you also need to give yourself permission to be “off”. Maybe don’t sign up to be room mom or fundraiser volunteer (even though we both know you would totally SLAY!). Do your part and stay informed, but remember that your value isn’t in what you’ve accomplished as a parent.
Sometimes soaking in the moments without measuring progress is the best option. Focus on the feeling, not the end result. No need to compare to other moms or impress anyone other than your kids. No need to pressure kids to succeed when they can simply enjoy the learning process for now. You (and they) are competent and successful as you are. Slow down and simmer. You’ve got this!!
Is that a tear in your eye? Is your heart bursting? You’re feeling all the feels about another school year. Suddenly, packing a lunch is reminding you of the very first time you made a PB&J and then you’re thinking about your own school lunches, then your first car, then your kids are doing to be driving any day, then they’re off to college, then you’ll be all alone. Bahhhh! On the flip side, school is AWESOME, learning is SO MUCH FUN and friends are THE BEST! The highs and lows of school are a lot to process.
Listen carefully to this… you are a beautiful creature and your emotions and intuition are magic. Pure magic. You are sharing the best parts of yourself with your kids by showing them how to feel. While your kids are off making their own adventures at school you will be 100% okay. Don’t feel lonely. They will be home at the end of the day either way.
Soak in the emotions for a bit, but remember that a new school year means new experiences and chances to be creative, original and independent. Separation can be hard but it’s good for both you and your kiddos. Stay curious about who your kids are and help them discover that person. Marinate in emotion or schedule a coffee date to vent, then move on because spending too much time on one moment means you might miss the beautiful ones happening next.
So many details to process this year and you’re here for it. Is there a spreadsheet available? Should you create one? What time is ideal to leave the house in order to pull into the school at just the right time? Where is the unabridged school handbook and are all the papers properly signed, dated and returned? You know exactly how to do mornings the right way and make sure things go as planned. You’ve done a full digital search on your kid’s teacher and know who’s allergic to what in class. Socializing isn’t your thing and while you want your kids to have their best academic year, you’re also thinking about the minimum level of in person interaction you can get away with.
Put your kindness and knowledge to good use. Alone time is a good thing and a necessity to recharge. Walk on the beach, read a book or tinker on a project on your own. With kids, become a homework warrior and spend quality time after school solving math problems or reading together. Share and communicate as a way to connect. When you do the math, it’s 100% worth it.
Anxiety? Me? Helicopter mom? Are you sure we haven’t met? Just over here thinking of every possible scenario and how it could go wrong. No big deal. There is no rule book on how to navigate it all and that’s okay. Yes, it’s your duty to be a good parent and to anticipate our child’s needs, but be confident in your abilities and of those around you. You’ve done an amazing job raising your kids to this point and they will survive and thrive at school. Seeing a situation from all sides is a gift. There may be bumps along the way and navigating struggle is part of learning. Yes, the school and teachers are doing their very best to create a safe and fun environment and no, field day is not an imminent threat to your child.
You are not overreacting, you’re just so awesome at thinking through possible options. That’s very responsible of you and the world needs your questions. Going into a new year, do your best to be at peace and appreciate your wit as a way to balance your thoughts. If you need to lighten the mood as you get hit the most worrisome parts of your day, turn to a funny meme account or a friend with the best jokes. A good laugh goes a long way!
Another school year, another opportunity for adventure! Who wants to think about studies when there are exciting things like recess, friends and extracurricular activities? Perhaps you signed your kids up for an activity every single day of the week because experiences are obviously where the value lies in life. You want your kids to be brave, free-spirited and to think for themselves. They are definitely going to make this world a better place. Schedules are rules are merely suggestions. Are you the one rolling into car line last because you were having so much fun and lost track of time? Or maybe you’re likely to stir things up at the PTA meeting because it needed a little more flair.
No one’s trying to tell you what to do, but you don’t want those tardies to add up. Turn morning routines into a game or make the drive to school totally awesome belting out songs. Channel your inner kid!
Remember there will always be a chance to create more fun so don’t fret if you crave more in that exact moment. Enjoy your independence during school then cherish the moments you can take your kiddos along for the ride and create an out-of-the-box adventure. Equally appreciate the slow moments to let your kids settle and recharge. Being and doing can go hand in hand. Life is grand and this school year will be too.
The schedules, the routines and the daily tasks of another school year are yours to design. You are so good at taking charge and handling ALL THE THINGS. Your kids probably have no idea how much you are doing for them because you do it with ease. You’re straightforward, assertive and sometimes unfiltered. You want your kids to know the world is at their fingertips and they have the power to thrive with your guidance. Your expectations are high and your kids are learning what you approve or don’t approve of.
Have you ever identified more with an animal than a mama bear? Nope. Fierce when the situation calls for strength, yet soft and squishy, too. Anyone on the wrong side better watch the f out. You are a champion for those in your village, but you realize you might need a reminder that you can’t control everything.
Even in boss mom mode, you can be affected by anything that doesn’t align with your rule. Let someone in your circle take the lead. That can be your kids, their teachers or even other moms. This should not be a threat. Don’t feed an issue where there isn’t one, but use your confidence to support, empower and inspire your people. Your reactions can be intense because you’re comfortable to be a challenger, but try to offer space for vulnerability (which takes intention).
School is a beautiful thing, but why on earth do they want you there at a certain time every day? And why so early?! Wouldn’t it be so lovely to float out the door and arrive ethereally at the school without a single struggle or complaint? Bliss.
Watching your kids take on this stage of learning, education and social experiences is a joy. You’d rather not have to enforce a schedule or something un-fun like homework, but discipline is a good thing. Is someone arguing in the car or acting out? Because all you hear is la la la from those angel children. Your magical peace-keeping skills and knack for fixing things are treasures. Even if it means you overlook a little offense here and there. When it comes to making choices, deciding boundaries or picking after school activities, you need time to think and talk things out. Totally fine!
While you might sometimes feel like other parents or your kid’s teacher are secretly judging you, be confident that your care and concern for the peace of your crew goes a long way. Your point of view is unlike anyone else’s and it’s important not to focus too much on outside opinions because your awareness and ability to assess a situation and please the majority is a gift. Just be sure you’re standing by the rules and boundaries you’ll need to get through a new school year. Don’t disregard your needs for the sake of family harmony. Tune in with intention, so you have the freedom to tune out and relax.
Read more about enneagram types for moms in this post.