The Enneagram and Motherhood: “The Reformer” (Type 1)


From The Enneagram Institute: “Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.”

All of that is well and good, but I can tell you that becoming a parent took all of this and turned it on its head.

As a child I used to stay up late at night organizing my closet and rewriting my school notes so they were just right. Shopping for a new planner is (almost) better than buying new shoes. No one could ever be as hard on me as I am on myself. About eight years ago, all of this went sideways when we welcomed our son into our lives. Babies are notoriously unpredictable, nothing goes as planned (beginning with our birth plan and spiraling from there), and there is no one “right” way to raise a child. Except for mine of course, haha.

Then, he got a little older. And we had another one. While I had been able to keep up with organizing closets by size and color when there was only one small human at our house, with two it became infinitely harder. And a year later we added foster babies into the mix. Since then, my One-ness is tested every day. Kids are not generally the most orderly and fastidious, and forget high standards. Last time I cooked what I thought was an amazing gourmet meal my son’s prayer went something like “Dear Jesus, Thank you for this… dinner? Amen.”

Parenting has a way of holding you up to giant mirror and magnifying all the warts. As someone who struggles with impatience anyway, waiting calmly while my three-year-old dresses themselves, or puts their own shoes on, or attempts to buckle themselves in the car seat, or really tries anything independently makes me batty. But I know it is so important for their development to let them try, and sometimes fail, and sometimes succeed, no matter if we could have been out the door ten minutes ago. And sometimes I resent what it appears that other moms have, especially those leading the orderly and organized life I crave. I have to remind myself that social media is a highlight reel (I know we say that all the time, but that’s because it’s true!) and no one else is dealing with the exact circumstances that I am.

How do I mom as a One? I carry my paper planner with me everywhere. If it doesn’t get written in there, it doesn’t get done. I meal plan for the week based on our activities and commitments – I’ve got a stockpile of Crockpot freezer meals for the crazy days, and try to mix it up between fun grown up style food (the Mealime app has been life-changing in this regard) and family favorites, like spaghetti, so that the people actually eat. I do as much as I can for our school/work mornings the night before, including getting the kids to set out their clothes and making lunches, so there are no surprises when we are trying to walk out the door. Hearing “I can’t find a <insert item of the school uniform here> for today” floating up the stairs at 7:35am is bone chilling for a One.

Mom life has taught me that while striving for perfection is just fine, beating yourself up when things don’t go as planned is not OK. Teaching my children and being their number one advocate in all things is the best way to spend that One energy. Organization is the only way to keep from going crazy when parenting four kids under the age of four. And, while I love being a One, I’ve learned that each Enneagram type is incredibly valuable, and we all have specific roles as part of a team, whether that is at work, on a volunteer committee, or at home.

Reformer Mom Profile:

Theme Song for Enneagram Type 1 & Favorite Line: “Perfect” by Alanis Morrisette.
“We’ll love you, just the way you are, if you’re perfect.”

Favorite Book & Why
: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. Depends on the day. 😉

Your kid falls off their bike and comes running to you in tears. How do you respond?
Check for blood and guts. If no blood, congratulate them for wearing their helmet and pads and encourage them to get back up again. If there is blood, we got to the first aid station in the kitchen, clean the cut, and then each person in the family has their own band-aid flavor in the cabinet.

What’s in your purse right now
  • My planner
  • First aid kit
  • Lotion
  • Bug spray
  • Chapstick
  • Sunnies
  • Pocket knife
  • Wallet
  • All my insurance cards and punch cards
  • Standard lip gloss (shout out to Black Honey from Clinique!)
  • Receipts for business purchases
  • An inordinate number of pens
  • And, inexplicably, some Ranch dressing.

Want to read more about the other Enneagram types? Click here!


  1. This had me laughing out loud and sheepishly blushing at the same time. So incredibly and ridiculously accurate! The teen years have turned out to be the hardest for this One Mom, and I’m trying to figure out how to let go.

    • I’m not to the teen years yet, but I can see that already as a problem I’m working on with my elementary-aged kiddos. 🙂

    • This one I got at Office Depot, and then saw the same exact one at Target for ten dollars less. *facepalm* This year I went straight to Target for my 2020 planner. 🙂

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