Balancing work and family in COVID-19 times

Forced to work at home, McCallum families find creative ways to turn their homes into multipurpose locations

FINDING A PLACE TO WORK: My dad’s an architect, and since the stay-at-home order, he hasn’t been able to go into his office. Because our house is small, he built himself a desk in his room, so he could have his own space to work. He’s always very resourceful, so he was able to build a desk out of an old art table and some pieces of wood he had lying around. Photo by Kate Boyle.

During the pandemic, our family’s living room became a multipurpose room serving as a dance studio, music room, church, office and movie theater.

— freshman Kate Boyle

In this week’s #TuesdayTop10, we are pleased continue our series of COVID-19-themed photo essays from the photojournalism students’ WRKxFMLY project images. This week’s collective photo essay explores how families are creating work spaces at home since they are not able to go into work because their offices are closed due to the pandemic.

We found that the solutions are not always long-lasting and that parents in these pandemic times are often torn between their role as parents at home and the work that they must do during business hours, but also that children have developed a new respect for the work that their parents do because in these times when everything is happening at the same place, they are witnesses to the work that their parents do.

FINDING A PLACE TO WORK: My dad’s an architect, and since the stay-at-home order, he hasn’t been able to go into his office. Because our house is small, he built himself a desk in his room, so he could have his own space to work. He’s always very resourceful, so he was able to build a desk out of an old art table and some pieces of wood he had lying around. Photo by Kate Boyle.

SHARED SPACE: My dad and sister sit at the kitchen counter in our house. My dad works from home a lot, and likes to set up in the kitchen. When he’s working, everyone basically goes on with normal life around him. Photo by Lily Wilson.

CHOP, CHOP: My father, being a doctor, needed to look professional for work which is hard to do when you can’t go to the barbershop. We had some clippers that we got to give the dogs a haircut and I decided I was capable of doing my dad’s hair. As you can see in this photo he was terrified at first, but it actually turned out very nice. Photo by Amelie Ruggero.

80-HOUR WORK WEEK: Nothing much changed during the corona quarantine for my dad’s work life. Owning a small children’s media business with my mom has always allowed them to work from home, but it wasn’t until I was forced to stay indoors throughout the week that I was able to fully experience how hard they work. As seen in this photo of my very tired looking father, my dad especially will work from early in the morning to late in the evening. Watching my mom and dad complete the occasional 12-14 hour workday has given me a whole new level of respect for them and what they can accomplish. Photo by Angus Sewell McCann.

BORED. BORED. BORED. I’ve heard the words “I’m bored” or ” I have nothing to do” more times than I can count from my little siblings. I do love them a lot, but it is driving me crazy. After bothering everyone in the house and annoying them, they lay down in the living room suffering from a bad case of boredom. Photo by Anna Garcia.

THE ART OF ONLINE STORYTELLING: My dad tells stories. It is a gift of his. From telling me and my brother a bedtime story every night when we were little to building an online children’s audio stories business with my mom, my dad has always described storytelling as his passion. The internet has allowed for so many new business opportunities to be possible. Nobody would have believed that a person could make a career for themselves by writing and recording children’s stories before the creation of the internet. His home recording studio, his loyal team of employees and this new age of technology allows him to share these stories with the world. As shown in this photo, he has recently been doing free nightly YouTube live stories to advertise his business. Photo by Angus Sewell McCann.

CATCHING UP: As a parent adjusting to a new routine during these times is super difficult, and it’s hard to find some time to catch up with friends. My stepmom, Vicky, prepares a cocktail from a New York Times recipe and sits outside while video chatting with her friends after putting the kids to be an hour earlier than usual. Photo by Anna Garcia.

ZOOM STUDIO: My stepmom is holding a lecture for her UT students in the following week, which means finding an appropriate space to do this. We held a Zoom one room away from each other to see how things would look through a screen. She set up paintings in the office, which is now her Zoom studio while my little sister and dad model. My little brother and I tell her where the paintings would look best on the wall. Photo by Anna Garcia.

THE OFFICE: During quarantine, my family has had to adapt to now working from every day. My mom and stepdad have turned their bedroom into a temporary office, each doing their work 10 feet apart, with pads for the pets in between them. Photo by Dylan Neal.

A QUARANTINE HAIRCUT: U.S Navy-issued clippers and an amateur barber. When my dad was younger, his dad would give him, his brothers and friends haircuts in their garage. Since there’s no barber shops open, my dad said he trusted me the most out of our whole family to give him a haircut. and since then I’ve given him two. Photo by Ava Medina.

CHEER ON THE TRAMPOLINE: My little sisters are in cheer and their gym is closed, so they spend a lot of time on the trampoline practicing their tricks. I often join them, and they try and teach me their skills, but then we give up and just play games. Photo by Ava Medina.

A DIVIDED HOME: Due to the fact that my dad is a doctor and is exposed to the virus every day, he has decided to move all of his stuff downstairs and live out of our basement. Even though my mom works at a hospital, she doesn’t go to work nearly as much he does, so she hasn’t had to move downstairs yet. My dad just wants to make sure he’s doing everything to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. Unfortunately that means that my brother and I don’t get to see him as much as we would like to. Photo by Lily Brode.

WORKING WITH WHAT WE GOT: My mom Acey Moreno’s work space set up in the corner of her bedroom. Because of the pandemic all of my family has had to work from home, and it’s been a hard transition for us all. My mom set up her work space in her room so that she would have her own private area to work. “I like working in here,” Moreno says. “Of course I’d rather be at my job environment but the lighting is nice, and it’s not too shabby a set up.” Photo by Esme Moreno.

A CROSSING BETWEEN WORK AND PLAY: My father works while my sister, Sonya, plays Animal Crossing. My mother has been using the game as bribery to get my sister to do schoolwork. So far it has been working. Photo by Evie Barnard.

FINDING A PLACE TO WORK AT FIRST: On Friday, March 13, the day Austin schools were canceled because of COVID-19, my dad came home early but still had some more work to finish. He is sitting on the couch in our living room working on his laptop. During the pandemic, our family’s living room became a multipurpose room serving as a dance studio, music room, church, office and movie theater. Photo by Kate Boyle.

FINDING A BETTER PLACE TO WORK: During the first week of the pandemic my dad, who’s an architect, used a folding table as a desk and put in our living room. This was a challenge because my sister also needed to use the room for her dance classes, and he didn’t have a door to block the noise coming from the rest of the house. As a family, we had to work hard to stay quiet when he was in important conference calls. Photo by Kate Boyle.

FINALLY FINDING A PLACE TO WORK: After a week of working in our living room and being interrupted by my sister’s violin and piano playing, my Spanish practice, and my mom’s work calls, he built a desk in his room, so he would have a private place to work. My dad is an architect, and he can now work, looking out a window into our backyard while designing schools. Photo by Kate Boyle.

MOM IS IN A SESSION: My mom is a psychologist. Since the stay-at-home order, she’s been offering therapy sessions online. Since her office is right next to the kitchen, my sister made a sign as a reminder to stay quiet when she is in a session. The sign didn’t stay on the pocket door that leads into my mom’s office, so now we keep it on the fridge when my mom is working. Photo by Kate Boyle.

ROOM OF REQUIREMENT: In the Harry Potter book series, there is a room in Hogwarts that can serve any purpose the students need it to. A couple of years ago, we remodeled our garage so it would have a room at the back. Over the years, the room has come to serve a number of purposes. It started as a laundry room and now also has my mom’s desk and a bed for when guests come and stay. My family has started to call it the room of requirement since it really does seem that way. My mom is a psychologist and uses this space to work from home. Photo by Kate Boyle.

GETTING DOWN TO DOWN TIME: While working from home, it can be hard to find some down time to get a lot of work done. When the time finally strikes, my dad gets to work. While my brother and I are doing school work and don’t have any Zoom meetings, my dad takes advantage of the quiet in the house to read through papers and other files for his job. Photo by Lydia Reedy.

MEETINGS: This is a photo of my mom. She is currently working from home like most people due to corona. Her job is very interactive, so online she isn’t able to do as much as usual, but she still does as much as possible. Photo by Olivia Escalante.

MAN AND DOG CAVE: During the first weeks of quarantines, I set up an office in the garage so that I could have room to spread out that wouldn’t encroach on my wife’s work space. It worked well until the temperatures started to rise, and the garage became an uncomfortable place to set up shop. With my wife’s office inside the house and my office in the garage, our poor dog had to choose a companion, and he changed his mind frequently as if the pledge of his allegiance was troubling him. Photo by Annabel Winter.

WORK AND RELAXATION: This is my dog’s other option, and it seems a more comfortable one. I have to give my beautiful wife some credit because she eventually gave up this space when the garage became to hot a space for me to work. She set up an office in our bedroom, which I would have done, but she said I stayed up too late and therefore should not have my office in the bedroom. Photo by Dave Winter.

WORK FROM HOME: My mom is a contractor for DFPS (Department of Family Protective Services) and is still able to work from home. Before everyone was on lock down we went to Arizona for our spring break. We’re staying with my aunt and she has a beautiful backyard. My mom chooses to sit outside by the pool and work than to stay inside, and she always has a picture of me. Photo by Regan Sims.

READING BUDDY: This is an image of my dad reading his novel for his 1930s literature class with our cat Joon beside him. My dad is a professor at Austin Community College and always has a book in his hand. When he heard about COVID-19 he knew that he had to start doing more work in the house that would take away from spending time with Joon. Joon wasn’t too happy about that. Photo by Sophia Dawson.

TWO COMPUTERS ‘ROUND THE CLOCK: My mom stares at the computer bright and early in the morning as she looks at her email and I work on my online school assignment. The whole family has been on the computer 24/7 because it’s the only way we can get our work done! Photo by Sophia Dawson.

WORKING FROM HOME: My mom has been working a lot on her laptop and doing meetings through Zoom all week, and she switches up her locations a lot. This is our front room, but she switches between the front porch and her room. Photo by Tallulah Wilson.

MOM WORKING: This is my mom working from home while my dog lays under the table. My dog has really enjoyed having more company around the house since usually it’s just the cat. I don’t think my mom enjoys our company quite as much though. Photo by Thomas Melina Raab.

WORK FROM HOME: Trisha Tanner is taking advantage of working from home. She is completing a diagnostician report with the help of Po and Sue. Trisha said that it is nice to work in pajamas all day and never leave bed; however she would love to get back to work to see all of her students. Photo by Zoe Tanner.

HARD WORKING: On my mom’s first day to work she decides to make herself a homemade office. She takes a table we had and the chair and puts it in the other living room, then uses a box as her computer stand to make it eye level to her. Photo by Emily Cormack.

LAYERS: My mom, an artist, spends a lot of her time at her downstairs desk drawing and researching. Our cat Mouse always finds a way to be involved, whether it’s sitting next to her, or laying straight on her work. Photo by Camille Wilson.