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A new year can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. It is a fresh start and a time for change, but that doesn’t excuse the need to be realistic about what you can actually do amid the uncertainties of homeschool mom life (every day is different, yes?) So today community manager Dawn Garrett and I are here with some real talk and best tips for setting goals, getting mornings started well (note: I didn’t say early), choosing a word for the year, and so much more. Enjoy!

Pam: In my definition of a good morning is not necessarily starting early, but about my habits and the rhythm that falls into place because I can get up at six o’clock in the morning and get started doing things and still have a rotten morning. This is your morning basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone. And welcome to the, your morning basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy that you are joining me here today. Well, today’s episode of the podcast is a little bit different than what we normally do. It is a conversation between homeschool moms, it’s myself, and then the community manager here at your morning basket, Dawn Garrett.

And we’re talking all about new year’s resolutions making goals, our words for the new year and how we turn around habits and create habits for making better mornings in our homeschool. Now, if you think that these are a couple of super moms telling you exactly how to do it, I’m sorry. You’re going to be really disappointed. Actually, we give away quite a few of our deepest, darkest morning secrets in this particular podcast. No, nothing too bad, but definitely the all too human side of us and our sides of us. Cause there’s two of us. And then Dawn actually does a much better job with mornings, even though she hates it than I do. She gets up and gets started earlier and is a little more disciplined about it.
Whereas I have created systems to help me get through and have a good day, even if I don’t get up early at all. And so we talk about all of those things along with how we set goals, how we choose words for the year. One of us does. And one of us doesn’t, or hasn’t up to this point might be changing her mind and just in general, how we get our year and our mornings off to a good start. Now, if you are interested in getting your morning off to a better start, your homeschool morning, that is we actually have a little free ebook for you. It’s very short, very actionable five steps that you can take, and you only have to take one of them. You don’t even have to do all five, but five different ideas for you that if you implemented one, just one of them tomorrow, it would start to make a difference in your school day. And I promise you, and none of them have to do with getting up super early. So start making some changes in your school day with our little actionable ebook called better homeschool mornings. And you can find that by going to So go grab that one and on with the podcast.
Okay. Everyone. I am here today with my very good friend and the community manager here at the your morning basket podcast, Ms. Dawn Garrett. I’m sure that many of you know, Dawn, she blogs at And you’re going to be putting up some blog posts this year. Aren’t you Dawn?
I Sure hope so. It is a new habit that I’m going to be working on, instilling.
How appropriate as we are talking today about habits and goals and those kinds of things. So yes, Dawn has blogged at ladyusk, remind me.
It was at 2001, 2001. Yeah. May
19 years now going well actually 20, 20 it’ll be 20.
Yeah. Yeah. 20th blogging anniversary. Don also has three kids who she homeschools using the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. And at her blog, she has her ebook. “I am, I can, I, I will” which is a kids devotional based on the Charlotte Mason motto. So you’re a great person to have on to be talking about this kind of stuff.
It’s right up your alley, right. Was right up my alley because I have had to force myself to practice it over the last, how old is my oldest? 16years.
Okay. I think that’s a really good place to start. Dawn and I are coming at this conversation about goal-setting and habits for moms from the idea of we are right here in the trenches with you.
We’ve figured out some things as we’ve gone along, I don’t know about you Dawn, but there are times where I feel pretty good about some of my habits and goals are going. And then there are times where I feel like I’m just like sucking eggs.
Absolutely. Yeah. So, and, and sometimes it’s some goals are going really well, but some are like a dumpster fire over there and you don’t want to think about it anymore.
Okay. I absolutely love that. I’m glad that I’m not the only person who has the occasional dumpster fire That’s going On off on the side. Okay, perfect. So I think the first thing we probably need to address is, you know, we are the morning basket podcast, and normally we talk about bringing truth, goodness and beauty to your homeschool day with morning basket subjects.
But we felt like this idea of habits and goal settings for moms. And particularly we’re going to be talking a lot about as homeschool moms was an important topic to cover. And I can tell you why I think so I’m anxious to hear why you thought that this was a good topic. When I said, Hey, let’s talk about this. And you’re like, sure.
Well, you said my, the name of my blog is lady dusk. Dusk is the opposite of Dawn. I’ve always felt that my name was something of a misnomer and the mornings were not my strong suit. And so I’ve really had to work on mornings. That’s been a very much a struggle for my 47 years of life is mornings are not my thing.
So it is definitely been something that I had to work really hard at. And I think it’s really important for homeschooling for in that Charlotte Mason world. We talk about the atmosphere. Mom is the atmosphere, the discipline of doing the things that you ought to do, the habits that you ought to be doing. And then you have this idea of presenting living ideas,but you can’t do that if you’re not awake.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that, I think that’s a big thing is, is one of the reasons why this topic kind of came to the forefront for me was we hear so often from moms that they would like to do a morning basket. They would like to do morning time, but they feel like they’re crunched for time.
They feel like they don’t have enough time to do it. And sometimes when you dig deeper into the habits that are going on, it’s a matter of getting started earlier. And I’ll tell you guys from my perspective, I would say 90% of the time on the days we miss morning time and we do miss morning time, it happens. It is because my morning went off the rails somewhere and I said, okay, well, you guys just do your list instead of lets, get lets start our day with morning time. And I know our days go so much better when we have the time to start with morning time. And so for me, the idea of having a really good school morning, it’s just kind of this wonderful thing that grows, you know, I have a good morning. We, we get to do morning time, and then the whole rest of the day feels better because of it.
Yeah. I usually say that if I decide to cut morning time and just do your independent work guys, they know what they’ve got to get done. The work expands to fill the time allowed. So if I’m not taking up that hour and a half of morning for morning time, there’s a lot more dilly dallying and dawdling. And they’re just not nearly as focused, focused, enthusiastic inspired to, to do their work and do it well. I mean, and in high school, the work can be a long time in a Charlotte Mason education. It can be a long day. Yeah. So there, there is just something about having that time, where everyone is pulled together, where we’ve worked through a bunch of things that just propels the rest of our day motivates it.
Yeah. Okay. And so I think that’s, you don’t save time by not doing morning time is absolutely not. It’s basically what you’re telling me. Okay. And so I always feel like we have to caveat when we talk about Dawn’s morning time, because she just said an hour and a half and like half the listeners fell out on the floor. So then there’s some things you have to know about Dawn. So number one, her kids are very close together in age and they do a lot of their work. So morning time is not extras for them. It’s a lot of their regular schoolwork is done in morning time.
And combining kids it’s is really kind of a big part of their entire curriculum.
And we have a blog post about that too, about how I pull from our curriculum into our morning time. Yes. And so, you know, I don’t think there’s a wrong way to do morning time, but for Dawn it’s, it’s a very efficient use of time where she’s kind of pulling from this curriculum and getting everyone together.
I would say that right now, just for the record, as, as a comparison, you know, I have three kids who are fairly close in age, not as close as Dawns. And our morning time runs about 45 minutes to an hour. And we do combine for a few things in there. And then we do a lot of what people would consider the extras, but I feel like they’re really important things to do. There are things I want to do in my day that I think are important enough to set aside time for, so your morning time might not be even as long as mine, yours might only be 20 or 30 minutes long and that’s completely okay. So I feel like we always, yeah, we always have to caveat
And I’ve also been, we’ve also been doing morning time for 12, 13 years now. So it is an established part of our lifestyle. Yeah, no, that’s just, that’s just what you do. That’s just what we do. Yes. You have learned to use that tool to the absolute fullest for your, for your own school. So, all right.
Well, let’s talk a little bit about, I think one of the things that always comes up when we start having these conversations about morning and we get a lot of moms who are with their going well, womp womp, I don’t like to wake up early. You guys wake up earlier than we do for me. And I just want to establish this fact for everybody who’s listening out there. My definition of a good morning has less to do with about what time we start and more to do with the rhythm of what’s going on.
So even if we don’t start, I mean, obviously there is a time that if we haven’t started by this kind of drop dead time, we’re not going to get done with what we need to do before I need to get on with the rest of my day. But I will tell you that time is not seven o’clock in the morning. And so we tend to later at my house, we tend to get started later at my house. And my definition of a good morning is not necessarily starting early, but about my habits and the rhythm that falls into place because I can get up at six o’clock in the morning and get started doing things and still have rotten morning. Do you agree Dawn?
Oh yeah. I mean, the mornings are still a struggle. We mostly are getting up because you know, my husband is working from home and he, and he uses our bedroom, so I have to get out and you know, so, so there are things that are a part of our rhythm, but so we do start what many would consider to be early, but it doesn’t mean that, you know, there’s, there’s no glory in that. It’s just what has to be done, but we can have, you know, I can have the breakfast burn and the, this happened and the everything can go off the rails. And, and it’s still a bad morning.
I don’t know if I’m the only person who can turn something edifying, like, you know, reading for my own Schole or digging into a Bible study or something into something that then becomes a stumbling block.
For a while, my kids were getting up early. Like they wanted to go for a bike ride or something in the summer when it was still light early that’s in the early morning. And I was like, but you weren’t allowed to talk to me. I sit in the foyer. I’ll say good morning to you, but do not interrupt my time.
This is my time, you know, there’s, there’s that selfish bit there that it can totally, or, or sometimes something that’s going on in a book that you’re reading is like disturbing to you and upsetting. And, and so your emotions are engaged in a different way. So there are all kinds of ways that you can be just thrown off kilter, even if you’re doing a early morning.
Yeah. Yeah. So I think that, I think that’s important for us to talk about is that we don’t, we’re not necessarily talking about the definition of a good morning, be starting early. And, you know, I know some moms are like me where, well, and you too, you work from home.
And so it’s easy to get in there. And there’s 50 emails in the inbox and like, I’ve got to get all these done and answer them all. Or, you know, I’ve, I’ve got to get these packages mailed out or there’s something wrong. That’s got to be fixed immediately. And there goes the school day. So yeah, there are so many different things that could be happening.
So let’s talk a little bit about how we can use habits and goals to kind of address some of these issues that we might be having. And do you set goals or do you call them resolutions or do you call them goals? What do you do for the new year?
I give myself rules. Like I have to drink a cup of water before I can have any coffee. And it wasn’t like a habit that it was just like, this is my rule. If I don’t have my water, I can’t have my coffee. Habits are like daily things I struggle with until I figured out that I wasn’t making habits. I was making rules for myself. I know that’s a little weird
That’s okay. Interesting. Okay. So I’m sure that our friend Mystie Winkler would have some like this personality thing. This is totally working, but I’m a rule follower too. And I have never, I’m probably just enough of not a rule follower to blow myself off on that.
Goal setting is something that I want to get better at. But so many of the things are things that I don’t want to give up when I reach some goal. Right. But I do have, I do have some goals I wanted, this is an end of the day one, but I wanted to end with all three of our tables cleared every day. And it was a habit that I wanted to work on with my family and have pretty well established by the end of the year I started, we started in October, the dining room table, which is where we do most of our eating, the kitchen table, which, you know, kids will be on the computer there and they’ll have snacks there and it’s a landing place cause it’s by a door and the school table, I want to all three of those tables to be cleared every day. And so that is a goal, but it is also like a long-term habit that we’re trying to instill. Do you ever reach the end of that? Maybe. So how did, how did you make that happen? I yelled at my kids. Okay. I didn’t really yell, But I just, it’s just kind of listing insisting, seriously, guys. I want the table to be cleared.
They were there. They already mostly clear the dining room table after dinner. So it was, it was kind of the other two tables that we’re really working on. And I think it’s going to be a continuation to the next quarter with my school table because you know, we’re on break right now. So there isn’t a lot to clear right now.
Right. Right. Okay. So this brings up something I wanted to talk about. And I think one of the problems that I have had in the past with morning stuff, when my school day hasn’t gotten off to a good start is it’s been because I haven’t necessarily wanted to lead the kids in this direction. Like I just want to tell them what to do and have it be done. And it doesn’t work that way.
You said you have to inspect what you expect.
Yes. I hate that.
I hate that too. Can I just be lazy mom over here and not do that? So I think that was one of the biggest mindset shifts for me was that my kids, and I know that there are kids out there like this, actually I used to go to co-op with the lady who had this lovely young man. He was in my writing class, just loved him, but they had like a, it was a pool house. It didn’t have a pool, but they had a pool house behind their house. So they use for their homeschool room and she’s like, yeah. And every morning at 6:30, he gets up and goes out there he’s a 13 year old boy mind you and get started with his homeschool stuff. And then the girls and I go out about eight and I’m like, where did this kid come from?
Those kids, I hear they do exist. They don’t exist in my house,
They’re like, Magical unicorns. He really was a sweet kid and God bless him.
But yeah, like my kids are not like that. And so for me, they’re just not going to get up and do that thing. I’m the one who’s got to, to keep things going. Actually this morning I was distracted getting some stuff done and we had a live event today. So I was getting ready for the live event. I go into my room to get dressed and I hear something going on in the living room that’s not right. And I’m like, Hey, what are you doing in there? Oh, we’re watching Phineas and Ferb. I’m like, no, you’re not like you just turned on the TV and thought you’re going to watch TV after I told you to get started with your list? And this is the kind of stuff that they try to get away with.
So, me having to be in charge was one of the things like, they’re not going to do this by themselves. I’m the one who’s got to step up. And it’s like the same thing with your table. If you want those tables cleaned off, you’re not going to be able to say, Hey guys, it’s a goal of mine to make you clear the table every day for the table to be cleared off at the end of the day.
And then like, it’s just going to magically happen. Right. So I think once I figured out that I’m the one who has to be in charge. I can’t just say that I want this done. It’s like a daily. This is not the most uplifting podcast. I’m sorry, but it’s like a daily thing where you have to get up. And then I think I came to that realization and then I stopped using it as a point of resentment for my kids.
Because once I realized that this was the order of things, this was, this was how God intended for it to be.
It really is. It really is. Yeah. I think Charlotte Mason in her principles talks about authority and docility where as a parent, we are, are in authority of our children. Our children are to, be docile toward our instructions. But that means also that we need to recognize that we are only authorities under an authority and that we also have to be docile to the one who is instructing us and it should give us a great deal of compassion toward our, toward those who are to be obedient toward us. And, and it helps to give us a better posture and a mindset for how we shepherd and instruct and pull them along with us.
Yeah. There’s some uplifting. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. That is very uplifting. And I think that’s good to remember, you know, God really intended for me to be the one in charge and you know, as much as that is sometimes like, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And it did, it stopped me from resenting my children for not doing what I asked them to do because they’re not supposed to, I’m supposed to be exercising authority over them. So yeah.
It’s not a hard authority. It’s like, if I want the tables to be cleared off and I want them to mostly be doing, I should still be helping with that process. So I probably messed up the table too.
Yeah. Okay. So this is a very good point. And I think this is a big one, especially when it comes to mornings and that is setting a good example for the kids and not like, Can a grudging my well, if you won’t do it, I guess I will. No, that’s not the right way.
No, But also, you know, if we’re wanting our kids to get up in a timely manner with a good attitude, you know, the way we teach that is for us to get up in a timely manner with a good attitude and we’re not rushing along and, you know, just trying to, well, definitely not having a bad attitude, but not rushing along and just trying to get things done at the last minute and get everybody to go, go, go. This is another, this is like, Pam’s fault podcast. Another one I really struggled with where I would, I would be like, I would get angry because we hadn’t started. And the person I was angry with was myself, if I was honest, but I wasn’t necessarily the person I was taking it out on, you know, I would take that out on the kids.
And so that was another thing I kind of had to realize is that, you know, things aren’t going to be perfect. And I have to set that good example.
This is another place where I kind of feel like I’m quite capable of adding more things than fit in the amount of time I have, we have alarm, we start at eight 30 for our morning time.
I get up about six. I am quite capable of adding more and more things. Oh, we could do this before school started. But, and then like leaving some things to the very last 10 minutes. And then that’s where the trouble begins. I’ve tried to pack too many last minute things into the last minutes because I’ve expanded all the things that I would love to accomplish all of these things before we start.
Right. Right. And I think that’s, I definitely have to do that sometimes. It’s like, in order for me to get a good start to my school day, if I’ve let myself linger somewhere, or if I’ve been overly ambitious about what I’m going to put on my to-do list before we get started, or if I’ve just slept in a little bit and you know, honestly, I’m going to be, I’m going to be frank about this. I don’t feel guilty about sleeping in because I don’t know about you, but as I’ve gotten older, my sleep patterns have gotten really crazy. And then so all of you moms out there with little bitty babies, this is this one’s for you.
Cause you’re struggling from this too. I hate to tell you this. But like even after your kids are grown, you hit like 49 or 50 and you’re going to have trouble sleeping again. Sorry. It’s like, all the kids are bigger and I could sleep, but I’m still waking up at four o’clock in the morning or two and not being able to go back to sleep. And so I don’t feel guilty about sleeping in if I need to do it, but that does mean that, you know, if I do get to, if I am capable and able to sleep in, then I’ve got to shorten what I can do before that school day starts and be realistic about it. It was just my body needed sleep. And so therefore that was what I needed to do.
Yeah. And I think I have it down to a science, like I can take that morning routine and cut it down to just the bare minimum so I can get my school day started. And it, you know, I don’t have a lot of time for extra and fluff, but that’s not happening every day. Right. Okay. So you didn’t say anything about resolutions when we were talking about goals?No?
I mean, I don’t do traditional resolutions. Like I want to lose 10 pounds and I don’t do you know, that kind of thing. I usually do the word for the year is kind of Scholastic a scholarly kind of a resolution for me, but that’s, that’s really the closest thing I do to resolutions.
That’s interesting that you say that because I know I’ve known for years that you’ve done the word of the year. I’ve never really done one. I’m thinking about doing one for next year, but I never thought of it as a scholarly thing. I always thought of it as a woo woo think, that’s why I didn’t do it. So tell me how your word of the year is scholarly and give. Cause I’ve known what some of your past words have been, but some of the listeners don’t. So give us a couple of examples.
Okay. So for me, it’s an idea that just seems to kind of keep coming up in the year prior that I want to think about some more. So that’s, that’s how it’s not woo woo. How it’s more scholarly. It’s like I try to find a book or two that maybe are related or some years I’ve done a good job about writing blog posts about how I’m thinking about it for the year, or even getting guests to write about it for me. So some of my words have been revel because I found myself kind of just always melancholy and never really enjoying things. So attend because I think paying attention is one of those key first things that we need to do. I did commune because I really wanted to be more active in relating to other people in my community and really sinking down into living with people in a, in a less distracted sort of way. And this year, my word was engaged where I wanted to be. I tend to be a people pleaser and I tend to not really want to rock the boat ever. And so I wanted to do better about, you know, being willing to speak up when I felt like I needed to speak up. This has been an interesting year for an engaged, to be the word for the year. So other people do this. I mean, lots and lots of people do the word for the year. Kind of idea mine. I usually try to choose a verb because I want it to be an active campaign of, so it’s not entirely scholarly because it’s not just, I’m thinking about that idea, but also I want to act on it. I want to, to be better about something that I’m seeing as deficient my 2021 word, I’ll announce it here is seek. I want to think about what it means to seek first, the kingdom of God, when we’re already a believer. How, how can I be better about seeking God, seeking his kingdom, seeking the things that he would have me do when, I’m already active in my church, community active in my faith and that kind of thing. So that’s kind of the direction I’m going for 2021.
Oh, that’s really interesting. And I love the idea that you find books about it and you read about it and everything. So it just kind of starts coming to you as an idea that this is where I want to go for the year?
It does. I start thinking about, and maybe hearing on occasion or one year I chose the word pacify. That was Pam’s favorite. I think I really wanted to think about what it means to be a peacemaker, but I also wanted a verb. There is no really good peace verb. So I chose pacify cause I wanted, I wanted that relationship to be thought about, and I didn’t want to just choose peace. I mean, lots of people choose peace and joy and love, and those are, those are wonderful words, but for me, I need something that’s very active.
Right. You need a verb. I need a verb. Okay. Not that I didn’t have respect for you, but the word of the year thing has always been kind of a conundrum kind of thing for me. It’s like, okay, because, but just looking at your approach to it and how you’ve read books about it and things like that. Yeah. I might could get on board with that when I’m tossing one around for next year and then I’ll, I’ll have to see if I can find some books about it. So, so we’ll see. Well, I am a goal setter myself, typically, that’s what I do. And I do smart goals. If you’ve taken Plan Your Year are, you’ve looked at any of this stuff, which honestly, Dawn has a really great post on the blog about goal setting for moms. Yeah. With the kids. And then for mom in the book, I think is more about for moms, but on the blog post it’s setting goals with your kids. Okay. So in the plan your year book, that Dawn actually has a little mini chapter all about how to set goals for yourself and we’re, and that point we’re talking about in the context of a school year, right? And then on the blog post is about for kids.
Well, I like to set goals for myself and I do the smarter goals, which is the kinds of goals that we talk about. Well, we talk about smart goals and plan your year, but recently I’ve been turned on to Michael Hyatt’s goal setting book The Best Year Ever. And so I very recently read that one and he talks about smarter goals.
And I’m trying to remember what the extra ER were about risky, risky. And then there’s one about like exciting. Like it has to be exciting to you. It can’t just kind of be, it needs to be something you get excited about. And they actually have a great podcast that goes along with their full focus planner and Dawn and I are both using the full focus planner right now.
I just actually did the year subscription.
Oh, did you?
I did.
So I did not because my first one did, we got the same color didn’t we? We did. We got the blue. Okay. So my first one, I got the, the regular one and then I already bought my one. I bought the coil bound. Oh, did you? Yeah. I’m going to see how I like it. So I’m still trying things out. The coil bound does not have the ribbon.
Yeah. I don’t think I’d like that.
Yeah. I, and I may not. I’ve I’m already like considering, okay. What can I put in there? I think I’m going to get like some little cute magnetic bookmarks or something to stick in.
And then I already use washi tape on the edges of some of my pages. Like these colors have different meanings, right. To help me find certain pages really quickly. So like this, this blue one right here is about goal setting. Whenever that color comes up and that the pink one here is food. So this is like my master meal list like that.
So I can really quickly turn to whatever it is I’m looking for. But anyway, so we’re using the full focus planner and he has a couple of books that go along with this, but best year ever is one of them. And he talks about writing two kinds of goals. So one is achievement goal. That’s where you’re trying to do something by a certain date or time. And then the other one is a habit goal, or you’re trying to build a habit. And then he talks about what motivations do you have? Breaking it down into the steps that you need to take to complete that goal. And one of those, he, he encourages you to start with like the easiest step first. So that way you’re started, you’ve gotten started. And then what are you gonna reward yourself with? And so I think I started, I’ve always been a goal setter, but I really started using this system probably about two or three months ago. And some things are going well and then some things are not going well. And the thing that is the thing that I struggle with the most is I forget my goals.
So like I was showing my planner to my husband not too long ago. And I’m like, and here are my goals. And I like flip the page and I was like, Oh, I was supposed to be working on that.
Well, maybe we’ll have to chat about that some more.
Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think I’m going to have to like maybe post them on the wall or something like that, which, you know, that’s, that’s something really good to talk about as you’re easing into new habits, kind of like better morning habits or any kind of habits that you’re trying to set up for your homeschool, how do you keep them forefront in your mind?
Well, one thing with the full focus system is that you are always like each week, you’re supposed to go back through your goals as you’re getting ready for your upcoming week. I will admit that that is not my strong part of, of, of that weekly review, weekly preview. You want to call it, but keeping yes, keeping them in mind. I would like to do better. I did write some goals. I got my planner after Pam got hers and I do kind of want to do better about writing those smarter kind of goals and having that kind of thing.
I tend to be more go with the flow in general. And so I think I could step up a little bit. So I accomplished one of them really quickly, which was good. Yeah, I did. I did a goal like for some of the, I really wanted to do better about like prayer requests and keeping track of them and that kind of thing. And I wanted to set up a system and I knew that could be something that I could do quickly. Whereas this table clearing was going to take longer because it’s a more of a habit. So I’m working through those processes, but yeah, keeping them in front of me. I know I wrote other goals in there and I don’t know what they are.
Well, I’m wondering, so, you know, I’m thinking about one of the systems that we use in Morning Momentum. The only, like the only thing you need for that particular class is a stack of index cards. And, you know, it’s kind of for people who are pre planner, like I’m not ready to commit to a planner yet. So morning momentum is a class we have where we’re helping moms get off to a good start in their morning and have a more consistent homeschool day and have time to do things like morning time.
And we’re actually going to be running it at the end of this month. At the end of January, we’re going to open the card on it and we’re going to run it it’s six weeks long. So we’re going to start it in February and it goes through mid-March. And one of the things, this is for people who aren’t even necessarily, I think some of our girls use a planner, but a lot of people haven’t even gotten that far yet. And so we teach them a system that I learned from Mystie Winkler years ago with index cards, but we also use index cards. It was like, if they’ve got to buy a pack of index cards anyway, we might as well put everything that we’re doing in the course on this series of index cards.
And so you end up with index cards line all around your house through the course, but I’m wondering if that wouldn’t be something that I could use to help with bringing my goals to front of mind. Yeah, it’s using kind of that index card system. So, well, when you make changes, Dawn, do you jump in immediately making changes or do you kind of try to ease into it?
I probably am a jumper-inner and would probably be better off if I were an easier-inner, Like in the summer when I swim in my pool, I dive in because that way I get in and, and then I can do whatever play with my kids or swim or whatever it is I’m doing, but there are times when it might’ve been better if I put my toes in first for a little bit, and I think, and I think that’s probably true of many kinds of habits or rules or, you know, I’m going to be all in and want to like, if this is where I want to begin as you want to go on. Right.
Okay. So that’s really funny because if you go to your pool analogy, I’m totally the person who puts my toes in and who steps off a little bit and kind of like eases my way in to see if I want to go further. And I’m also the kind of person who eases into habits. Okay. So for example, I’ve been trying to up my step count. Yeah. Yay. I’ve been, but I’ve been working on this for months now and it’s actually one of my goals. And the first part of that is to just put my Fitbit on, you know, and I did that for weeks, but now when I wake up in the morning, I actually remember to put my Fitbit on every day. But that was like, that was the only part of the goal I was doing. Like, I wasn’t worried about what my step goal was or how many steps I was getting.
And I do meet my goal a lot of days, you know, but the, the habit was just to put the Fitbit on. And so now I’m getting to the point where it’s take a daily walk, you know, just get out and move intentionally for 15 minutes a day, whether that’s up and down the driveway or going around the block or something like that. So I’ve kind of moved from that baby step of just wearing the Fitbit. You know, I could be successful at that. So now I have to move forward. I’m forced to move forward to make progress. And that’s to go on that daily walk.
You know, that I’ve been walking a lot in this last year. Part of that was that when Jason came home to work, I needed to put some stops and starts on the Workday. So we walk before he works and we walk at the end of his Workday. And so we pretty much have done that since he came home. And it’s not like we were taking two daily walks every day before he came home. We just, we just put those, you know, those brackets on the day, the dog loves it.
Okay. So what I’m hearing you say is you’ve set up, you you’ve built habits around kind of the, kind of this meaningful need that you have. And that reminds me so much of, especially like if you’re trying to build habits into your homeschool day, like a morning time or something like that, building like hooking them to certain like a breakfast or a lunch, like, okay, we want to make it a habit to, to do morning, time every day. So we’re going to do it, you know, over, we’re going to start it over breakfast. Absolutely. Yeah. So that, that’s kind of what I see you doing.
So I think there are a number of good methods that you can use. You can hook new habits to something that’s already going on in your day or you can baby step your way into it. Or you can just dive right off and say, I’m going to do it like Dawn does into the swimming pool.
Until like, you know, well, I guess we’re done with that Go cold Turkey.
Goodness. All right. So let’s finish it up for the poor mom who feels like I am such a night owl and I want to stay up late and enjoy the quiet after the kids go to bed.
How can I ever hope to do some of this stuff in the morning? Do not feel guilted into feeling like your morning has to start at eight or nine or 10.
I mean, Unless your kids are up already. Yes. Enjoy your quiet. Yeah. Your morning doesn’t have to start at 6:00 AM or God forbid earlier than that. Are there hours before that? It’s just this nebulous cloud,
But your morning can start when your morning starts.
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s important. Now I am going to caveat this Dawn and say, if your kids are all up by eight o’clock in the morning especially. If they’re young, you know, this goes back to, you have to get up and lead, but it’s not going to last forever.
No, but my friend, Virginia Lee they’re their household is they stay up late and they get up kind of late and their big meal of the day, her dad works kind of later hours, so their big meal of the day is breakfast at nine. And you know, they may be rolling into school by 10 or 10 30 and it’s fine. It works for them. But you have to determine what does morning mean for your family? And if you’re yes, if you have littles and they’re up and at ’em you probably should be up. But if your household, if your culture of your home is leans later, lean later. It’s okay.
Yeah. And we definitely do. I mean, we, we totally lean later around here. And so I think it’s a matter of looking at your family and what your needs are. And it’s going to shift from year to year. Ours definitely has look at what you want to do in those afterschool hours. You know, I know right now, not a lot of people are going a lot of places, but during those times where you’re like, Oh, we have to be at art class at one and we have to be at piano at, you know, two on this day then yeah, you’ve got to get your mornings going, but take all of that into consideration. And don’t let some predetermined notion of what school looks like, be the thing that makes your decisions for you in the morning time. But instead the let the needs of your family and the lifestyle that you’re building at home. Be thing that determines what your mornings look like, instead.
That freedom is, is such a big part of homeschooling, I think. Yeah. I mean, being able to do what, what works, what serves your family the best. That’s just such an important thing. Don’t, don’t be pressured into becoming what you’re not. Yeah. Yeah. I think so.
All right. You got any like one new goal, one new habit for the new year that I have one I’ll share. You got one you want Hmm. I don’t, I’m gonna think about seek You share yours. Let me think.
Okay. So I have decided that I need a hobby. Oh yeah. I feel serious about that. You do have a whole series about that. There is an excellent series about mom’s hobbies on the blog. And we will link to that in the show notes, because that was a really good one, but I’m actually going to go back to an old hobby that I had before my kids were born. I wish I could say that it was ice skating because I love to go back and start ice skating again. But sadly I can not, there was no ice anywhere close to me, but it’s a scrapbooking. So I am actually setting myself a goal that I am going to complete at least two scrapbooking pages a month, because I think I need, I think I need the boxes to check off and get me started. But, but yeah, I haven’t done it in a long time and I used to do it all the time. I mean, it was something I was just really big into and, or the blogs started. It is where the blogs started. Yeah, yeah. Very much so. The blog started as a place for me to share my scrapbooking pages online. And so, yeah, I need to get back to that. And so for years I’ve made the excuse. Well, it’s too much like work, you know? Cause I do a lot of scrapbooking digitally. I do more so digitally than I do then I do like moving stuff around on paper. And so I was like, Oh, it was too, it’s too much like work. It won’t make a good hobby, but now it’s like, you know what, it’s what you like to do. So you might as well do it because if you don’t then you’re just going to work instead.
I think I want to try to find an online class. That is, that is a goal that I kind of wrote in October was I’d like to do some online classes. I recently asked you about like, I don’t feel like I know enough about like graphic design or what makes a good picture or how to manipulate images well online. So I think that’s, that’s something that I would like to, to I’d say brush up on, but I never had anything that I don’t have anything to brush up. So build a foundation for you to learn something new, learn something new. Yeah. It’s kind of a hobby. And then mornings always working, always working on morning. Dawn is a bad joke of a name.
Well, my name’s Pam and it hasn’t helped me at all. Either. My mornings are still always, always a struggle. So yeah. Well guys, I really hope that you have enjoyed this conversation about habits and goal setting and good mornings for moms. And I hope you’ve taken something away from it. We’re going to have a pretty extensive set of show notes for you with all of the things that Dawn and I chatted about today and just let us know, where are you struggling? You can leave a comment on the show notes post, or you can email Dawn And she does share those with me. Or, you can pop into the little video bubble that’s on the bottom of the blog and leave us either a text, audio, or video reply there. And we would love to hear what are your goals for the new year?
Are you picking a word for yourself and what are you working on? All right. Oh yeah. You could join our community. See this community manager, tell them where they can find the community. You can join the community. If you send me an email to, I will send you an invitation. We have this private community of homeschool moms who are.
We have like, 3,500 homeschool moms in that community.
Now they’re trying to improve their homeschooling and their mornings and their morning time. And we have a good time. I that’s one of my favorite places on the internet. Yeah. Great conversations off of social media, drama free. Just a wonderful, what’s the word I’m looking for? Encouraging place to hang out and yeah, we can get you an invitation and get you in there.
Yeah. So we’d love to have you join us. All right, Dawn. Thanks so much. This was a fun conversation. Yeah. And now we have 2021 things to do. Yay.
And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the books or resources that Dawn and I chatted about today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast. Those are at And come on over to the show notes to find a link to our class that we’re opening up on January 28. It is our Morning Momentum class, and it is all about calming some of the chaos and getting out of survival mode in your homeschool morning. And this does not matter what time you want to start.
You don’t have to start super early. You can start whenever you want to, but lets put the systems in place so that you can be more consistent with your homeschool days because of what you do before you begin. It is a super easy to follow course. It’s going to run all through the month of February six weeks long into the month of March.
And when you are done, you will have the tools you need to have a better morning, for sure. So come on over to the show notes and we’ll have a link for the waiting list there and the link to get that free ebook for better homeschool mornings. Pam forward slash Y M B 85. And I am super excited to tell you,
I am coming back in a couple of weeks with a wonderful interview with Martin Cothran, all about the importance of learning the liberal arts in the age of STEM. This one was interesting and convicting, and I think you’re really going to enjoy it until then keep seeking Truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show Planning FormsPinHomeschool Planning FormsMorning MomentumPinMorning MomentumI Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will:PinI Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will:


Key Ideas about Goals, Words, and Redeeming Your Mornings

  • What makes a good morning is going to look different for each family. It will be based on the needs and culture of each individual family. A good morning is about the established habits and rhythm of the day and less about the specific time of day that you start.
  • Leadership is one of the key elements of establishing good mornings in our homes. We have to lead by example to show our children what we want from them. And, we are to gently guide them towards the habits and disciplines we want to establish.
  • Dawn explains how she turns her Word of the Year choice into a scholarly activity. She chooses a verb so that it is something she can act on, and she selects books about the topic as well. In years past she has even written about how she is processing her Word of the Year on her blog.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • 3:03 Meet Dawn Garrett
  • 4:32 how Morning Time helps set the tone for the day
  • 10:58 what makes a good morning
  • 14:37 using habits to help resolve morning struggles
  • 17:11 the importance of leadership from mom
  • 22:02 being the example for our children
  • 25:47 goal setting, resolutions, and a Word of the Year
  • 34:53 how to keep new habits top of mind
  • 38:03 making changes in your homeschool
  • 42:29 tips for the night owl
  • 45:20 Pam and Dawn share a goal for 2021

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