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It goes without saying how much I love my kids. I know every mom does. But this gig is HARD. It’s not hard in a “I need that report on my desk by 5’o’clock” kind of way or a “Hit this quota or else” kind of way or even an “I’m going to get fired if I mess this up” kind of way. It’s hard in a very different way that’s not easy to put into words. I know personalities vary from mom to mom and those little differences can totally influence how we think, feel and act as a mom. Plus, our personality types can nearly predict where we’ll have challenges in motherhood and how we can cope. I was struggling and had been feeling frustrated when I took a hard look at my personality and how it affected my everyday mindset as a mom. It’s kind of wild! Whether you’re a mom or part of the support system we moms rely on, you might have felt how I’ve felt lately.
Here’s the rundown…
I’m a work-at-home mom with my youngest — a 1 year old — home with me during the day. I work full-time doing graphic design, social media content creation and digital marketing. I’m also a #3 on the enneagram and always have identified as an Achiever. Transitioning from career mom (even working from home) to career mom “plus one” has been a wild ride. We’ve had some of the sweetest moments imaginable during our time just the two of us and my work gives me the flexibility to do activities, errands and things out of the house during the day as long as I can make up the work later. It’s really been amazing and a season of life that I know I’ll look back on and feel so thankful for.
BUT, I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately and I hadn’t been able to put my finger on why. I seem to have the best of both worlds doing work that I love, working from home and being able to spend quality time with my girl. It seems like a win-win, right? When I realized I was feeling frustrated for no apparent reason and stressing about basic stuff everyday, I had to stop and take a look at why.
Here’s one reason being a mom is so hard …
As moms, we don’t get feedback and satisfaction the same way we do at a job. In my career life, a client or boss always gives feedback about a project – good, bad or ugly – and either approves the work or gives notes to edit. There’s a very clear dialogue and communication so you know how you’re performing. Good work and met deadlines mean payment, praise and kudos. Wrapping up a project, finishing a post or sending something to print gives a major sense of accomplishment and validation that I didn’t realize I was relying on so much.
As a #3, my personality thrives on that feedback so I know that what I’m doing is worth it. I need to hear those positive comments that fuel my energy and mood, which helps to keep me producing. Otherwise I lose momentum, start questioning things and generally feel a little lackluster. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired.
As a mom, I’m not going to hear, “Thanks for filling our Easter baskets with awesome stuff that isn’t totally cavity-inducing!” or “Yeah, mom, you rocked that diaper changing today. You’re amazing!” or “You are so great about taking time to explain why instead of just giving me a one-word answer. Super mom!” (<– though I’ve done the one word answer, too). Yes, there are sweet hugs, sloppy kisses and fingers waving for me to pick up my chunky babe, but it isn’t the clear feedback and confirmation that I’m used to at work.
I know that seems like an obvious distinction because work and mom life are so different, but that doesn’t mean that we moms don’t need to hear those words of encouragement and positive reactions to fuel us. I’m not saying motherhood is thankless because we all know the joy and love is infinite, but I’m saying we moms have needs to help us be our best selves and so much of what we crave depends on our personality type. If you know someone in the trenches of motherhood, having more baby chats than adult conversations, doing non-stop chauffeuring, prepping for college admissions or even in the newborn fog making their way through the feeding-changing-rocking-to-sleep cycle that repeats a million times, be mindful that we need support. Depending on our personality type, that might look like words of encouragement, calling/texting AGAIN even when you haven’t heard back, offering a moment to escape or proposing a get-together to feel more connected.
Looking at how motherhood affects different personality types can help guide how to support moms in the trenches. I’m not an expert on the enneagram, but I’m fascinated by it and spent a little time putting this together based on each number’s personality. (Side note: if you haven’t taken the test, do that first and come back. You can take a few minutes to find your type here: Easy Enneagram Test)
You crave perfection. Forget the fear of imperfection. Do something silly or spontaneous that makes you feel good and reminds you that you don’t have to be responsible every single second. Life with kids is going to be full of not-so-perfect moments and unpredictability. Try to embrace it!
You need to feel “enough”. Don’t feel guilty for wanting/needing to focus on you. Practice self care away from the kids. Indulge in an independent activity that helps you set boundaries between yourself as a mom and yourself as a person with interests outside of mom life.
You need outside approval to feel valued. Remind yourself that your worth is not based on what you did or didn’t accomplish in a day. Write down affirmations or set encouraging reminders to yourself on your calendar. Create small goals to work toward with your kids and celebrate completing them. Embrace the slow pace. Remember that each day as a mom can be an accomplishment in itself.
You need to feel connected and engaged. You aren’t like everyone else and that’s okay. Don’t focus on what you think might be missing in your journey as a mom. Focus on seeing the beauty and uniqueness in your kids, your day or your path. Balance feeling “all the things” by checking out for solo reflection, even if it’s just a few minutes blaring a playlist to yourself to recenter.
You need to feel knowledgeable. If anyone has the answer, it’s probably you. But overthinking can lead to too much stress or too much alone time separate from your family. Take time to engage and be attentive, making a point to share your thoughts and skills in a way that feels good, but be comfortable with knowing you don’t know everything and that’s okay.
You need to feel secure. Calling all helicopter moms! Be intentional about stepping back to let little things go. Remember kids need to learn on their own, even as you guide them. Don’t imagine worst-case scenarios, but leave room for mistakes and discipline so you can celebrate those learning moments.
You need to feel happy where you are. Mom FOMO is real. You might feel like everyone else is doing so much while you’re just doing mom stuff. Make your everyday tasks an exciting adventure. Prioritize and say no as needed so you don’t feel spread thin, but say yes to fun and meaningful activities that you can do together.
You need to feel in control. Easy there, tiger mom. Use your energy to help teach and grow with activities and learning, but be intentional about letting them guide and take the lead. It’s easy to get too busy, become rigid with your expectations and overreact, so take a moment to relax. Simplify your schedule, your tasks and your mindset so there’s less pressure to keep up an exhausting pace.
You need to feel harmony. Don’t lose your sense of self in the process of parenting, even if you typically avoid conflict. Be the strong mom your kdis need. Discipline and scheduling might be hard, but it’s so good to set those boundaries for your sanity and theirs. Be consistent and use apps or reminders if you need help. Structure doesn’t have to be stressful.
Thinking about motherhood from a personality perspective is so fascinating and is one of those super simple tools that we can use to better understand why we feel a certain way and how we can get ahead of ourselves to think and feel our best. So, I’d love to hear if this is accurate for you.