Have you heard how much I love the book MotherStyles? If you haven’t, check it out here.
One of my favorite parts of the book was how the authors talk about finding a job or volunteer opportunity that you will thrive in, by focusing on the strengths of your personality. Also, how having children can change the type of job that will make you feel most fulfilled. I feel it’s really important to steer our children (and ourselves) into a career path that builds on their strengths, so I was thrilled to find we are already doing something in our house that the author recommends.
My husband and I are Boy Scout den leaders for one of our sons, and we often end up coaching various park board sports teams as well. Hubs is ENFP and I’m INFJ, which means for any non-Meyers Briggs speakers out there, he’s outgoing and laid back, and I’m quiet and detail oriented. One of the main reasons I married him is so that he could do most of the talking for me. (I’m kidding, sort of).
We make a great team because we complement each other–for scouts, I plan all the meetings, set up field trips, and pretty much handle all the details. He’s great with kids, so he actually runs the meetings, and is the main one who interacts with the boys. When we coach a sports team, he’s the actual coach who works with the kids, and I’m really the team manager, who hands out schedules, texts reminders of game times to parents, and sets up snack rotations.
Because of my personality, it could get overwhelming for me to be with my own kids all day, and then deal with 15 or so additional boys at these extracurricular activities. Most of my time and energy goes into the planning–that’s what I’m naturally good at, and I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction seeing my own boys and their friends enjoying these activities, knowing that I had a behind the scenes contribution that made it possible.
If I was trying to take on my husband’s role, and be the outgoing leader, interacting with the boys all the time, I’m pretty sure it would wear me out and I wouldn’t feel successful. Sure, there are times when he’s not there, and I do take over and stretch my comfort zone, wrangling scouts or soccer players. But I feel best when the majority of my time is spent at what my natural strengths are–planning and organizing behind the scenes.
The authors give several examples of how something that fulfills you before children can overwhelm you after having children. Someone who has a job that requires them to pour themselves into other people, such as a teacher, counselor or therapist–might thrive in the job before having children of their own. The same job may lead to burn out and exhaustion, giving of themselves so much all day, and then going home to give more to their children after hours.
I’m not a car person–my philosophy is to get something, take good care of it, and drive it until you can’t drive it anymore. When our second son was born, I drove a little hatchback that was paid off and got great gas mileage. It was a rude awakening to discover that it didn’t accommodate two car seats, let alone a double stroller. It just didn’t meet the needs of our new four person family, which was hard for me to accept–I thought I would drive it forever.
Likewise, a career or volunteer opportunity that fulfills you and makes you feel that you’re successful and making a contribution may not make you feel the same way after children enter you life, and that’s okay–you can find different occupations or opportunities where you can thrive in a new way.
What do you think–how has your work or volunteer experiences changed with your different life stages?