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Nation & World
Coronavirus news and updates about the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Families Adjust To Life At Home During Coronavirus

Marquita Matthews stands outside with her children, 8-year-old Masyn, Gabrielle, 2, Levi, 11, and Eli, 4, at their home in Philadelphia on April 2. Matthews says it has been an adjustment for her to be home because she works overnight as a pharmacy tech, while her husband works as an electrician.
Marquita Matthews stands outside with her children, 8-year-old Masyn, Gabrielle, 2, Levi, 11, and Eli, 4, at their home in Philadelphia on April 2. Matthews says it has been an adjustment for her to be home because she works overnight as a pharmacy tech, while her husband works as an electrician.

When Philadelphia-based freelance photographer Hannah Yoon heard about schools shutting down in her area, she was checking in on her neighbors who have families. She was interested to hear the experiences of parents who were staying home with their kids full time — many who are juggling work and their children's online education. She wanted to see how families were reacting as everything in their lives was changing.

While taking walks in her neighborhood, Yoon would greet families sitting on their porches or kids playing on the sidewalks. She started photographing the families while remaining outside and keeping a safe, social distance.

Photographing from farther away was a transition for Yoon.

"I'm so used to being close to people, and being right up next to people, especially families," she said. "Often I found myself yelling to ask questions [while] jotting down notes."

Malachy Egan plays with his son Malachy, 3, on their street in Philadelphia on March 19. Egan is a writer and illustrator and has been working at home with his children since mid-March. The family is trying to take time for moments of joy, like making art or celebrating a half birthday.
/ Hannah Yoon
Malachy Egan plays with his son Malachy, 3, on their street in Philadelphia on March 19. Egan is a writer and illustrator and has been working at home with his children since mid-March. The family is trying to take time for moments of joy, like making art or celebrating a half birthday.

Many parents told her that they were feeling guilty about trying to work while also helping their kids with their schoolwork.

"Working from home takes twice the amount of energy for me and it's half as productive," Stacy Brix, family nurse practitioner and mother of three, told Yoon. "Regardless, I am thankful that I have the capability to work from home and that I don't have to choose between my job and child care."

Living in the northwest part of Philadelphia, Yoon noticed people have bigger yards and more access to green space. Many families are fortunate that their children can play outside at home at a time when most playgrounds and parks are closed.

The sun sets in the Philadelphia neighborhood of East Germantown. The northwest part of the city has more access to green spaces.
/ Hannah Yoon
The sun sets in the Philadelphia neighborhood of East Germantown. The northwest part of the city has more access to green spaces.

Maryanne Rawlings and her husband, Rob Rawlings, stand with their children, Jane, 3, and Robert, 7, at their home in Wyncote, Penn., on March 30. Both parents are teachers and have been working remotely. They are trying to balance teaching with helping Robert with schoolwork and keeping Jane entertained.
/ Hannah Yoon
Maryanne Rawlings and her husband, Rob Rawlings, stand with their children, Jane, 3, and Robert, 7, at their home in Wyncote, Penn., on March 30. Both parents are teachers and have been working remotely. They are trying to balance teaching with helping Robert with schoolwork and keeping Jane entertained.

"I think that's an indicator of city planning or how different ZIP codes or different parts of the neighborhood are going to experience this stay-at-home order," she said.

Yoon documented families with infants and families with teenagers, and she heard from single parents and two-parent households. Many parents spoke about how grateful they were to have this family time together, despite the uncertain circumstances.

"There's a level of calmness and playfulness on top of this weird, unpredictable level of stress," said Bridget Mitchell, a single mother and kindergarten co-teacher. She said she was thankful for the time she has with her daughter, Olivia, and that it's bringing them closer.

Matias McIntosh-Brix, 5, and his sisters Vivien, 2, and Nora, 5, play by the window at their home in Philadelphia on March 31. Parents Stacy Brix and Joel McIntosh both work in the health care industry and are alternating between their jobs and being at home with the kids.
/ Hannah Yoon
Matias McIntosh-Brix, 5, and his sisters Vivien, 2, and Nora, 5, play by the window at their home in Philadelphia on March 31. Parents Stacy Brix and Joel McIntosh both work in the health care industry and are alternating between their jobs and being at home with the kids.

Jacob Griswold-Moran (left) and Katherine Moran stand with their children, Felix and Amelia Griswold-Moran, at their home on March 24. Griswold-Moran, a software developer, is now working from home while Moran, a speech pathologist, is on her maternity leave.
/ Hannah Yoon
Jacob Griswold-Moran (left) and Katherine Moran stand with their children, Felix and Amelia Griswold-Moran, at their home on March 24. Griswold-Moran, a software developer, is now working from home while Moran, a speech pathologist, is on her maternity leave.

Parents are finding ways to explain to children why they can't see their friends or relatives right now. There are nightmares and questions about whether the "germs have gone away." Parents are trying to put aside worries about money and the future. Most families are trying to make the best of a strange situation.

"It is ironic that the definition of quarantine or a lockdown has a very isolating and oppressive feeling, but in reality I feel like our family has never felt more free," said Susan Oh, a freelance artist and mother of three. "We absolutely feel the weight of the uncertainty ahead, but it's also been a time of daily remembering that this too shall pass."

Susan Oh and her husband, Han, stand outside their home on April 2 with their children, Lily, 2, Lucia, 8, and Eli, 5. "The [stay]-at-home order has affected life at home because it's really eliminated all of these social constructs that have been built for us: school, social events, work, after-school activities," Oh said.
/ Hannah Yoon
Susan Oh and her husband, Han, stand outside their home on April 2 with their children, Lily, 2, Lucia, 8, and Eli, 5. "The [stay]-at-home order has affected life at home because it's really eliminated all of these social constructs that have been built for us: school, social events, work, after-school activities," Oh said.

contributed to this report. She is a freelance photographer based in Philadelphia.

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