Recently someone sent me this question:

From your research, what makes ENFP mothers happy? What do happy ENFP mothers do? Do they have a part-time job and a messy house? How do they reconcile the need for outside stimulation to fuel their intuition with the need to attend to boring but necessary daily chores?

You always take the example of xxFJ mothers but you never talk about ENTP and ENFP mothers, and you know they are the types that suffer from boredom the most. So how do ENxP women ever deal with the housewife life?

The more I think of my future, the more gloomy it seems. It feels like I will become an unhappy woman from my thirties onward and that I will never find a job after my future kids grow up…

This question got me to thinking that there is sort of a formula that you can use to figure out what makes a parent happy. Each personality type has a core need that must be addressed in order for that type to be fulfilled. (If you don’t know your personality type, here’s a fast, free test you can take.)

When we talk about career, we say that you don’t need to be addressing that need every second of the workday, but you need to be addressing the need at some point. The same is true of parenting.

So, let’s say we are talking about career (always easier for me to talk about than parenting!) When we say, for example, that an ISTJ needs to have structure, this doesn’t mean they need to be in a straight jacket. It means that the part of the day where there is structure is refueling to the ISTJ and the part of the day that is chaos saps the energy of the ISTJ.

The photo up top  is my friend Cassie, who is an ENTP. She needs lots of time to explore ideas and tell people her ideas, and believe me, these are not the type of ideas that kids care about. So she gets energized from being on her computer, and she uses us that store of energy when she’s parenting her son.

The goal – whether it’s at an office or at home with kids — is to find yourself at the end of the day with a positive level of energy instead of a negative level of energy. So, do things that feel replenishing to you. If you feel drained and exhausted at the end of your day, it’s because you are not spending enough time on nourishing activities.

You don’t need to get a job, or quit a job, or move, or remarry, or whatever. You simply need to make time to collect energy by doing the type of activity that refuels you.

Here’s how that looks for each type:

Needs to create order and structure from theoretical abstraction.

Needs to visualize where an organization is headed.

Needs to generate new theories or to prove or disprove existing theories.

Needs to understand the world they live in.

Needs to understand the way things work.

Needs to take action and get the job done.

Needs to feel immersed in the world of senses.

Needs to feel excitement and drama.

Needs to fulfill their duty.

Needs to enforce rules and/or traditions.

Needs to create harmony and cooperation.

Needs to make people feel good about themselves.

Needs to see the world of hidden meanings and possibilities.

Needs to bring out the best in others.

Needs to make the world a better place.

Needs to inspire and motivate others.

So let’s take the ENFP we started with. Daily tasks will be depleting for an ENFP. So part of each day needs to be marked off for the ENFP to trade in big ideas. This does not necessarily mean being with adults, or getting paid, but it means motivating people to be their very best: Totally different than, say, making peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

Think in terms of blocks of time instead of titles and roles. And think in terms of energy levels instead of financial renumeration. Because how you frame the questions is often the path to getting to the answer, and that is definitely true in the case of parental fulfillment.