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Getting Your Kids' Mind, Body, & Soul Ready for School

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Last week I explained how we changed our morning by adding a routine. Here is a brief recap of our chaotic mornings trying to get the kids out the door and on the bus. A typical morning of poking and prodding my kids towards school would culminate at 8:35 when the alarm on my watch went off. I would look down in panic, knowing I had 7 minutes to get the kids out the door. As I looked around, I would see the kids were still eating breakfast, empty lunch boxes on the kitchen counter, and backpacks hanging open with folders falling out on their hooks. I would stand there feeling frozen and overwhelmed trying to triage what had to be done before the bus came.

Then I would jump to action pushing the kids towards the door as I bark out, “It’s time to go, hurry, hurry.” The more I prodded, the slower the kids would move and my anxiety spiked even higher as I started to now scream, “The bus will be here any minute.” When the kids finally did get on the bus, my day was a mess as I needed to sit and calm myself before I could start the rest of my day. This was my pattern and according to the rest of my family was more mornings than I wanted to admit to myself.

Homeschooling gave us a chance to start off our mornings a bit slower, but I started to notice that we struggled to get everything I had planned in for the day because it was nearly lunchtime before we got started unless we had an activity scheduled and purpose to get moving. Without a planned transition moving, we struggled to start our days; we had to find a way to make our mornings work and not let them waste away. I started implementing The Miracle Morning into my routine before the kids got up and found it really helped me to really shape my day. I wanted to be able to do something similar with the kids, which is when I came across The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families. It was inside this book that I first learned about CHARMS. (I had also teamed up with Lindsay McCarthy, the co-author, to do a blog about creating your own family meeting.)

CHARMS is the kid-friendly version of the Miracle Morning standing for Creativity, Health, Affirmation, Reading, Meditation, and Service. Creativity means doing some sort of activity that is creative like drawing, building with Legos, writing a story, or playing a game. Healthy do some sort of exercise to get the body moving and shift into the day. Affirmations say at least one affirmation 5 times and write it. Read for at least 20 minutes. Meditate by sitting in silence for at least 5 minutes and reflect on how you can follow rules, think about your affirmations, or think about being a team player. Finally, Be of Service by doing your part to contribute to the household, make sure your room is picked up, the playroom, etc. These are the components of CHARMS as defined by The Miracle Morning for Parents & Families.

When we did this homeschooling, we worked to do most of these first thing in the morning with jammies on and work our way up to breakfast. Realistically, with the kids going to school that would not work for us anymore. Therefore, I decided to make it a transition between home and school for the kids, rather than schedule buffer time in the morning with nothing to do. On bad mornings it could be skipped, but most mornings at least a portion of the routine is completed as a transition before Alexa informs us it is time to go outside for the bus playing Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker.

However, we had to modify CHARMS to work better for us in the 20 minutes we dedicated to it. As I worked on last week’s blog, my husband asked “What is your reason for doing these activities?” It is used as a transition period to the bus, but really, I want to create good habits, teach strategies to set their morning up for success, and give them tools to help self-regulate themselves. We have modified the routine to fill our family’s needs, but we kept calling it CHARMS. Maybe it’s time to rename it and make it our own.

I looked at the one thing that we did most consistently since we started it and that was the high five that I had learned from Mel Robbins. The last thing we’d do before going out to the bus many was to look in the mirror say our affirmation and tell ourselves we are going to have a good day then give each other high fives. Some mornings lately this is all we do, but sometimes it’s the simple habits that make the big difference.

We renamed our morning routine to High 5 since that is what we did most consistently, but also had mainly 5 things to do in the morning. Here are the five things we do:

1. Identify feelings using the Mood Meter (2-3 mins)

2. Meditation (3-5 mins)

3. Choose an affirmation & write it (2-3 mins)

4. Read books or stories (around 10 mins)

5. High five picture (repeat our affirmation in the mirror) (1-2 mins)

The purpose of High 5 is to help get the kid's mind, body, and spirit ready for school. I do not want to force the kids to do it because it only works when they take it seriously. Some days they just don’t, so the one rule we have is only people choosing to participate in High 5 may be in the room. After bad mornings, I have asked if we should just take CHARMS away, and they would all get mad and say, “No.” This rule became a compromise between this struggle.

The first step comes from the book Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett. There are four zones of regulation: red, blue, green, and yellow. We take the book and use the chart on the inside cover every day. This gives the kids the chance to chance to explore all types of feelings and ask questions about certain words, giving them more words to describe their feelings. First, they identify which zone they are in: red (angry, irritated, tense, etc.): high energy, low pleasantness; blue (discouraged, exhausted, depressed, etc.): low energy, low pleasantness; green (cozy, mellow, easygoing, etc.): high pleasantness, low energy; and yellow (energized, hopeful, inspired, etc.): high energy, high pleasantness. Sometimes this is all they can do, but our goal is to pinpoint a word to describe their feelings. Even if they cannot immediately identify their feeling, usually at some point they will find a word or color.

Meditation has been an interesting journey for us. We used to solely use the app Insight Timer, as there are many free kids guided meditations. Though it was sometime in the middle of our homeschooling year, that Lily adamantly fought to do meditation. She was so determined not to participate that she had a 45-minute crying fit. I felt ready to give up on the entire process. However, once she calmed down, she explained that she was tired of the app. Then she said something I was not expecting; she wanted to do her own meditation. The next morning my 4-year-old had me start the breathing, but then did imagery into the forest for all of us. It inspired the other two to want to create their own meditations. I honestly did not see that one coming. Though occasionally skipped, I can see the difference in their demeanor on the days they do fully participate in a meditation.

We typically go to the library every couple of weeks to pick books as a family. The books that we pick to read for High 5 usually picture books that have a lesson in them such as kindness, bullying, dreaming big, or anything that inspires them. We have a small collection for when we are out of library books, including these Hallmark books on kindness, teamwork, courage, and being you. We also read some chapter books such as Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul and Stories about Failure including Fantastic Failures by Luke Reynolds. We try to read for at least 5 minutes or until we have finished 2 books or chapters up until Wagon Wheel starts to play.

I will combine affirmation and the high five picture because they build off of each other. We first started with affirmations, using lists and cards that they would choose a new one every day. To more personalize this, I made affirmation books for each child with pictures of them and their favorite affirmations for Christmas. (More details about that process in a future blog). Though we have added a focus word for the year (my previous blog) which has carried over and we have been sticking to one affirmation for a period of time. I feel this helps them to internalize it a bit more. We also have a notebook for each child where they can write it one time to internalize it more, we don’t always get to this step. Currently, Bella and Lily both choose I can do anything I set my mind to, Liam choose I can help my community, and I choose I believe in myself. Which leads right into step five where we internalize these affirmations one more in the mirror giving ourselves a High 5 and taking a picture as the last thing before they go on the bus.

Lastly, just as we have a transition song to go out to the bus, we have a transition song to start High 5. Sometimes I will catch Bella singing it throughout the morning especially as she sweeps because many times that is what she is doing when it starts. We picked Make This an Awesome by Jack Hartmann.

I challenge you to try one new activity with your kids to Make It an Awesome Morning. Share Below what you'd like to try.

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