When I was in high school, I decided that I needed to like coffee.
My friends had started liking coffee. A few even worked at coffee shops before Starbucks came to our town, and so they would make me coffee drinks with syrups and whipped cream, and I would try to enjoy them.
But coffee and I have a deep misunderstanding.
I say, “Hey – how about a little wake-up boost?” and coffee says, “Hold on to your flipping hat.”
To really drive the point home, coffee also makes my stomach hurt like I swallowed a handful of forks.
So I resigned myself to be a tea girl.
Still, for years I would think that maybe if I tried hard enough, I could like coffee. I would order a Peppermint Mocha because I saw one on Instagram and it looked so festive and delicious.
I’ve never grocery shopped while high on Angel Dust, but I can only think that a normal person on Angel Dust is me on a tall Peppermint Mocha. #cartrage
So coffee and I are done before we ever got started. It would have been such a good ride, I think, until I jumped out of a 30th story window thinking I could fly …
I’ve just returned from a weekend hanging out with fellow homeschoolers and bloggers, and I can’t tell you how many times the conversation turned to personality types.
We talked Myers-Briggs and The Enneagram, and how knowing your personality type can help you understand everything from relationships, to work, to how you homeschool.
I’m hugely interested in this stuff, and was so relieved last year when I read Mystie’s fascinating piece on personality types and homeschooling.
Finally, I felt like someone understood what I was faced with here at home.
I don’t mean that to sound negative, but I had never seen it spelled out clearly for me before.
And that is when I first thought of the coffee.
So often, I am trying to force things here that work for other people, but make my heart race and my stomach hurt.
Personality is deeply ingrained. We know that. And yet, home educator parents often forget to take their own needs into consideration when thinking about what is going to work.
No matter what our personality, here’s what it comes down to:
If we are the solo parent at home (or caring for) our kids at any given moment, then we are in charge. We set the rhythm or schedule, and we make the rules.
We are the bosses, applesauces.
Immediately, as an INFJ, I run into a problem: my personality type is that which means I factor in everyone else’s emotions into every daily decision.
So I might wake up with a plan, but if a child awakes with a sore throat or a rough-night-of-sleep hangover, that plan goes out the window almost instantly.
I used to think that was a failing. Only after learning more about my personality did I learn that it’s just part of who I am, so of course it’s going to be how I parent, and how I home educate.
Still, this is hand’s down my single biggest challenge in homeschooling.
But it’s not everyone’s. If I tell a friend who has a different personality type that another family member’s “rough day,” derails me, she might wonder why I don’t just tell that child to suck it up, and hand them a worksheet.
(I also can’t do worksheets.)
But another’s mother’s hardest part of her day might be something I would never imagine, like noticing emotional cues in her kids.
(ALL I DO is notice emotional cues in my kids.)
The above describes another type of introverted homeschool mom, according to Mystie’s descriptions – in fact, we’re just one letter off -and yet, we couldn’t be more different.
Growing up teaches us that not all things are for all people – we decide that we are just firmly anti-Brussels sprout, or we are a Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or want all politicians to go back to powdered wigs and horse teeth.
We figure ourselves out, which I think takes about 40 years.
But even once we decide that we will never cut bangs again, or that corn in guacamole is a crime, we are tempted all the time by other people, who seem happy and together.
What we have to remember, though, is that those people are not US.
Some of us naturally need more order, and some of us die inside without creativity.
So here’s what I suggest to you, home educator:
– First, find out a bit about your personality type.
Take a Myers-Briggs or Enneagram test, or anything else that doesn’t ask for a lot of money or sound like a cult, and then study a bit. Learn more about what you need, and what is bound to make you nuts.
And embrace it. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We’re all unique. And it’s OK to make sure that homeschooling works for us as much as it works for our kids.
Remember: Your kids want a happy parent.
– Second, find people who inspire you to be more like yourself.
That doesn’t mean you can’t keep other people in your Instagram feed or follow them on Facebook, it just means that if you are a mom who struggles with projects, don’t fill your feed with only project-based homeschoolers.
AND, when you see another mom doing a project, think to yourself that that’s very nice and keep scrolling.
Note: If you are a sensitive soul, and if you’ve been struggling lately, it might be good to temporarily unfollow some folks. It’s OK, you can bring them back into the fold later when you are feeling more confident.
– Third, find real-life people or opportunities to fill the gaps.
If reading aloud makes you itch and squirm, check out library story times or invite Grandpa over once a week.
If you want your kids to have beautiful birthday cakes that express their personalities, find a baker in your community and let him or her do what they do best.
And then, be grateful for those people. That’s all you need to do.
You don’t need to beat yourself up that you can’t be everything to everyone.
You are not Taco Night.
But you are you, and believe me – it’s enough.
Want to learn more about personality types?
- The Enneagram Made Easy
- The Road Back to You
- The Road Back to You Podcast
- The Enneagram of Parenting
- Type Talk
- Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything