When Cassie Lake first heard that children might not be returning to school until November, she cried inside.
She has been enduring, as have many parents around NSW, long, torturous days of homeschooling.
"Having them sit there and trying to get them to stay seated to do their school work, and still have that bit of routine like a classroom, is difficult.
"Last week was just a complete and utter shit show. It's not fun," Cassie said.
But Cassie has found something that may help other parents feeling the stress.
Cassie's house is filled with five children - four of them ranging from year four to year eight, plus a two-year-old. Trying to keep the four being homeschooled on task has had Cassie tearing her hair out.
And she is not the only one feeling stressed. The children have been finding it difficult, too.
"They're freaking out that we're going to be in lockdown and they're not going to be able to see their friends until November, and then school's going to be almost over, and they'll miss the book parade, and they'll miss seeing assemblies. That's been very, very difficult for them," Cassie said.
"The 10-year-old, who is in year four, is so upset that she doesn't get to see her friends - she's very friend-based. So it's playing on her anxiety a lot.
"And they're just super anxious, super stressed, and I'm finding it harder to get them to sit down and do the work that's in front of them.
"There's been lots of crying, tantrums, throwing pencils across the room, saying they don't want to do this anymore, they just want to go back to their school, they like their old teachers better. We've been fired (as teachers) multiple times!"
However, Cassie has stumbled upon something that has changed things dramatically - micro meditation.
Cassie has been using Smiling Mind, a free meditation app, to help deal with her own anxiety. One particularly wild day, she thought she'd try it on the kids.
"In the middle session (of school time at home), they were just fighting, and arguing and crying and stressing me out, so I sent them off to lunch, and when I brought them in from lunch I said 'we're going to try this before we head back to class'.
"They sat there, they closed their eyes, they breathed, they did what they were supposed to do, then got up and walked away and back to class.
"And we had a really quiet afternoon! They finished their tasks on time, there wasn't any screaming or arguing, and it was actually quite good.
"So I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to try this again!'"
There are other ones as well where they can get up and walk around and shake their sillies out.Cassie Lake
Cassie has used Smiling Mind for the children a number of times since with success each time. The 10-year-old now loves it so much, she is asking to do it all the time, and is particularly asking for one before bed to help her sleep.
The meditations are available for different age groups and there are different categories, including meditations to help with study.
"They only go for a few minutes. Some go for two minutes, the longer ones go for six minutes. And that's really achievable to take out of your day," Cassie explained.
"They just sit there cuddled up on the lounge. Two of them like to do their meditation pose. And the two-year-old actually sits there as well, now, and stays seated the whole time with it!
"There are other ones as well where they can get up and walk around and shake their sillies out."
To find out more about smiling mind, visit smilingmind.com.au.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
- Bookmark our website
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Google News
Did you know? Manning River Times online subscribers not only have 24/7 access to local and national news, sport, what's on and entertainment - they also have access to our print editions in digital format, with all the advertisements and classifieds at their fingertips.