When I began homeschooling, one fear I had was that I would not be able to provide enough structure for my young people and they would grow up to be even more disorganized than me. We fall on the spectrum of homeschooling called unschooling, which is very flexible, and I wanted to at least start our days with some consistency. My husband, Mike, and I are life-long learners and recently heard Hal Elrod speak about an approach he uses called The Miracle Morning. We were excited to start implementing it in our lives. He suggests waking up before you have to in order to spend some time working on personal development. Specifically following an acronym called the Life S.A.V.E.R.S.- Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing. On the first day, we woke up about an hour earlier than we typically do and started digging into the S.A.V.E.R.S., unfortunately our kids got up about 10 minutes into our practice.
After some trial and error and a light bulb moment when our two-year-old daughter said to me, “Mommy I want to do what you’re doing,” we decided the best course of action was to invite them into the practice. We started teaching them how to meditate, exercising together, reading together, saying affirmations with the kids and getting creative in the morning. Something miraculous did happen- our kids started sleeping to their regular waking time again. This allowed Mike and I to get up before them to start on our S.A.V.E.R.S. and then finish the practice together as a family when the kids woke up. Another miracle also occurred- we didn’t feel rushed in the morning anymore and we were connecting as a family first thing in the morning.
About a month into our new ritual, our son asked me, “Mommy, why do I need to save my life every day?” I was a little taken aback by his questions, but when I looked at it from his perspective it made sense. As adults, many turn to personal development when they’ve hit a rough patch or want to reinvent themselves. As children, they are still developing their beliefs about who they are and live very much in the present moment naturally. I told him that we didn’t need to call it S.A.V.E.R.S. if he didn’t want to and we set out to make a new acronym just for our family.
Scribing was very difficult for our two and six year olds, so we decided to call that Creativity. The kids could draw, paint, color, play with playdoh or blocks, create a skit or song, or engage in imaginary play. The idea was to choose something they could do independently so we could use this time to finish our scribing. We wanted to expand on exercise to also include a healthy breakfast and teach them personal hygiene, so we called this category Health. Affirmations are paramount in teaching kids to have positive beliefs about themselves and reading is also essential, so those stayed the same. If your kids are too young to read on their own, you can read with them in the morning, have an older sibling do it or play an audiobook during breakfast or in the car. We combined silence and visualization into one category we call Meditation. We also wanted to teach our kids to have a heart of service, so we thought, “why not build it into their morning ritual?” Service can really be anything they do for someone else. It can be family contributions (A.K.A. chores) or they can make something for someone. If an older sibling reads to a younger one, that is service. If the younger sibling makes the older siblings bed, that is service. What we created is the C.H.A.R.M.S.- creativity, health, affirmations, reading, meditation and service. This became the way our kids start their day and something you can implement in your homeschool too.
My first tip is to lead by example. It’s very difficult to get young people to do something you are not modeling for them first. Start small and wake up 10 minutes earlier tomorrow to have some time just for you. As homeschool parents, we give so much to our families and we need to fill ourselves up so we don’t burn out. Really use this time for yourself. Read something you want to read, something positive. Drink your morning beverage in silence. Get outside if it’s nice and just listen to the birds for a couple minutes. Do something that brings you pure joy so you can continue to give to your family.
Next get your kids excited about it. Let them know you’re going to try something new tomorrow and let them create a C.H.A.R.M.S. box. Give them a box you already have around the house (a big shoebox, photo box, pull-ups box) and let them decorate it any way they want. For directions to make a CHARMS treasure box you can join my mailing list. Once it’s done ask them to get it ready for the morning. They can put some art supplies in it for their creativity and a book they’d like to read (or have someone else read to them). You can print out some free affirmations cards online to get them started with affirmations. In our boxes we also have a one minute sand timer that the kids use for meditation and health sometimes. You can also make a C.H.A.R.M.S. paper die if you’d like to make it into a game. On occasions when my kids don’t really want to do their C.H.A.R.M.S. making it into a game usually does the trick.
Lastly, keep it short, simple and playful. If your kids are anything like mine, they don’t have a much of an attention span. I can’t expect them to sit in meditation for 20 minutes or go run a marathon for their health. I also can’t expect them to be excited about personal development if it’s boring. One thing I would encourage you not to do is mix academic learning with their C.H.A.R.M.S. If you have a teen that is really into writing and wants that to count as their creativity time, or a 9 year old that chooses to do extra math work for creativity, wonderful as long as it’s THEIR choice. This should be a time for them to be totally themselves and express themselves in a way they choose.
Bonus tip: A rule we’ve adopted in our home is that no one has access to their electronics until their Miracle Morning is complete (this goes for Mom and Dad too). The exception is using apps to complete your Miracle Morning. For example, I use Insight Timer for my meditation practice. We also love the 7-minute workout app and Map My Fitness to track exercise. Mike has the 5 Minute Journal App that he likes to use for his scribe time. Audible and OverDrive are our favorites for audiobooks and ThinkUp is an app that you can record yourself saying your affirmations. By eliminating electronics until after Miracle Morning it helps everyone stay focused and by allowing exceptions you teach your kids technology is a powerful tool when used in that way.
We’ve been practicing the Miracle Morning as a family for about 3 years now and the biggest change I’d say I see in our family is our conversations in the mornings. It used to be a lot of whining, yelling, rushing and me being baffled about why each morning felt like we were starting off on the wrong foot. Now with clear direction in the morning and the kids getting to be very independent and everyone filling up their own cups first thing, mornings have become a favorite time to be with my family. Now each morning I can just ask the kids, “what did you do for your C.H.A.R.M.S. today?” and we get to talk about what cool creative project they are working on, what healthy choices they made, affirm the strengths we see in them, talk about what they are reading, and how they were of service. It’s a much more pleasant way to start the day and we are also instilling our family values intentionally every day with our kids.
I was only able to scratch the surface in this post. If you’d like to learn more you can pick up a copy of my book, The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families or join us in our Facebook Community by the same name. I am in there almost daily and would love to help your family create your ideal morning.
Lindsay McCarthy is a wife and homeschool mom of two kids. She is the co-author of The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families and creator of GratefulParent.com where she blogs. She grew up in Pennsylvania and now splits time between there and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She enjoys writing, gardening, and playing field hockey. Lindsay loves to travel and one of her favorite trips was her honeymoon to Curacao and Bonaire where she and her husband became certified scuba divers.
Facebook Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TMM4P/