I get this question a lot from people who have just discovered our Facebook Community or who have just become aware of our book, The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families. If you’re brand new to The Miracle Morning in general, I will explain it in a nutshell. Otherwise, you can skip ahead to C.H.A.R.M.S. In short, the Miracle Morning is a framework you can follow to create a powerful morning ritual. To apply it to your life, you wake up before you have to in order to create time for personal development. As Jim Rohn said, “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” The Miracle Morning framework is an acronym, the life S.A.V.E.R.S. It stands for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing.
I first heard Hal Elrod speak about the Miracle Morning in 2014 at a 1 Life Fully Lived conference. On the plane ride home I devoured the book and was excited to start implementing it into my life. I realized I had been using my two small children (6 and 2 at the time) as an excuse for not pursuing my dreams. After hearing Hal speak, I realized that was just a cop out. As he says, “The moment you take 100 percent responsibility for everything in your life is the same moment you claim your power to change anything in your life. However, the crucial distinction is to realize that taking responsibility is not the same thing as accepting blame. while blame determines who is at fault for something, responsibility determines who is committed to improving a situation. It rarely matters who is at fault. All that matters is that you are committed to improving your situation.” My husband and I decided we were going to commit to the 30-day challenge.
That first night, we set our alarm clocks an hour before we typically wake up and were so excited for what the morning would bring. Our first morning was not miraculous. We woke to both of our children standing by our bedside before our alarm event went off. Needless to say, we were discouraged, but we weren’t ready to throw in the towel. The next morning, the same thing happened and then next. After some trial and error and our two year old daughter saying, “Mommy, I want to do what you’re doing,” we decided to invite them to join us for our S.A.V.E.R.S.
We taught them how to meditate and to say affirmations, they exercised with us, we read with them and gave them special journals in which they could draw their dreams and goals. It started to become my favorite part of the day. Once they realized we had expectations of them in the morning, they started to sleep in to their more regular time, which meant Mike and I could more easily wake up before them to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting them.
As we became more purposeful about the way we started our day, our household became more peaceful all the time, not just in the morning. As Mike and I were consistent about working on ourselves as human beings we noticed it rubbing off on our kids. It was truly magical! About a month into our experiment, our son, Tyler (6 at the time), said to me, “Mommy, I don’t get it. Why do I have to save my life every day?” Bless his sweet little literal heart. I explained to him that when Hal created this practice that it truly saved him from what he calls his second rock bottom, so that’s why he named it the life S.A.V.E.R.S. I truly love the creativity of children, so I told Tyler we could rename it and C.H.A.R.M.S. was born.
We started playing with the words of the S.A.V.E.R.S. At the time, Tyler was just learning his letters and Ember was 2, so all she could really do was scribble. Scribing was a pretty difficult task for them, so we decided to change that to CREATIVITY. The idea was they got their brains active in the morning and do something independent of mom and dad so we could accomplish our scribing at the same time. To accomplish this, the kids had to have free access to art supplies. We turned the corner of our kitchen into a creativity station for them. We stocked it with paper, markers, coloring books, stickers, paints and paintbrushes, PlayDoh and a dress up bin. They loved the autonomy and truly looked forward to their creativity time each morning.
Next, we wanted to expand on exercise to also include personal hygiene and a healthy breakfast, so we called this category, HEALTH. Our kids enjoyed having dance parties in the kitchen with us in the mornings, playing Simon Says, doing Cosmic Kids yoga, jumping on our mini trampoline, doing the 7 minute workout app and going on walks with us around the neighborhood. We wanted to use this as an opportunity to teach them about nutrition and what were healthy food choices and also develop good habits like getting themselves dressed on their own and brushing their teeth and hair consistently. We printed them out little checklists that had pictures of the tasks we wanted them to complete each day and it worked like a charm (no pun intended ;).
AFFIRMATIONS often feel really strange when you start them as an adult and they’ve made such a positive impact in my life that we had to include them for our kids. I suggest keeping them really simple for kids. Our kids created ABC affirmations that followed the alphabet. We made them little notebooks from legal sized paper we folded in half and stapled together. Each day for the first 26 days, they would choose a new word and then draw a picture that represented that word to them. We started with A and went all the way to Z. This was their creativity, affirmations and reading for the first month. Here is a video Tyler saying his ABC affirmations if you need some inspiration.
READING was another we couldn’t change. It’s so fundamental to becoming a life-long learner that we had to keep it. I think as parents we often read with our children at bedtime, but by then we’re tired and so are our kids and it can often be rushed. We started listening to audiobooks during breakfast and on our way to school. Audiobooks have truly changed our lives. I don’t often make time to pick up a physical book, but with audiobooks we can all be listening to the same information and doing something else like driving, dishes, laundry, exercising etc. Also, when started practicing the Miracle Morning, my kids were not yet reading independently, so audiobooks were the perfect way to allow them to have autonomy with reading. Some people think audiobooks are “cheating,” but in my opinion an audiobook is far superior to not reading at all.
Mike and I had already been practicing meditation for years before we discovered the Miracle Morning. To us, silence and visualizations were both part of meditation, so we combined those two S.A.V.E.R.S. and called it MEDITATION. In hindsight, I wish we had called this category mindfulness, because this is really what we want our children to grasp. We are always telling them to be aware of their surroundings. Children can actually teach us adults so much about being present in the moment. Also “meditation” for a child can look very different than what we think of as meditation as adults. We do a lot of things to help our kids increase their mindfulness skills, like walking meditations, listening to guided meditations, breath work, and sharpening their senses.
The last of the C.H.A.R.M.S. is SERVICE. This is one we added because we wanted our kids to become servant leaders. We believe we all have inherent strengths and we are called to use them to make the world a better place. We also wanted our kids to know they are a valued member of the household and capable of helping out. Building this into their morning ritual means our kids are always looking for ways to be of service. I believe what we focus on expands, so if they are looking to be of service, that’s exactly what they will find. As they add value to their world they increase their intrinsic motivation to add even more.
When we wrote the book, we didn’t realize that the C.H.A.R.M.S. are actually our family values. Also we intended it to be a morning ritual, but for us it has really turned into our lifestyle and helped me become a better parent. We have started asking our kids questions based on the C.H.A.R.M.S. in everyday situations and are intentionally reenforcing our family values to our kids on a daily basis.
When they are having a sibling squabble, I can ask, “What creative solution can you come up with for this problem?”
When they are doing something that isn’t good for their health, I can ask, “Is that a healthy choice?”
When they do something that is in alignment with their daily affirmations, I can reinforce it to them by saying, “Wow, you really are POLITE, Ember. I loved the way you asked for that snack by saying please.”
Since we often listen to audiobooks in the car together, I can pull lessons from those books to help me explain something to my kids. For example, we listened to the book Wonder. If you haven’t read it, it’s a wonderful story about a boy named Auggie who is born with a severe facial anomaly. Many people are frightened by him, but in the end he becomes accepted and loved by his peers. Soon after reading this book, we met Nick Santonastasso. He was born with no legs and only one arm with one finger. At first, Ember was afraid of him, but I reminded her about Auggie’s story and how Nick is the same on the inside and has feelings too. This helped her shift her mindset and soon she was happy to pose for a picture with him and even shake his finger. For more books we love, check out this page.
Meditation has also become a tool we can draw on in times of stress. Recently, Tyler cut his finger and he had to get stitches. As the nurse was putting the needle of numbing agent into his thumb, he was taking deep breaths to calm himself down. She made a comment about what a great job he was doing and he casually commented, “Well, I’ve been practicing meditation since I was 4 years old.” It was certainly a proud momma moment for me!
Of all the C.H.A.R.M.S., service is probably my favorite and instead of me asking the question, it’s usually the kids who will ask me, “Mom, what can I do for service today?” This is my opportunity to ask them for help and for them to feel valued. They now will gladly help me with laundry, cleaning, dishes, feeding the dog, picking up and many other household chores that just need to get done.
I’m grateful for Hal for creating the original Miracle Morning and taking a chance on us to write the parents and families version. I’m grateful for my husband, Mike, who is always so supportive of my dreams and for taking the time to really get on the same page with parenting while writing this book together. I’m grateful for my kids who are always my greatest teachers and my inspiration to become the best version of myself. I’m grateful for my readers who have been inspired to make changes in their lives and are causing a ripple effect that will elevate the consciousness of humanity one morning at a time.