In and Out of the Comfort Zone: Mississippi families adapt at home during COVID-19 pandemic

The Purvis family. Photo by Lily Grace Duce
The Purvis family. Photo by Lily Grace Duce

Lily Grace Duce
Oxford Stories

Sara Brooks Adams
Oxford Stories

The COVID-19 epidemic has changed our world.

Just two weeks ago, families, teachers, and students were leaving for vacation, expecting a relaxing week away from their jobs and schoolwork.

That quickly changed following the news that students wouldn’t be returning to their schools and employees would be transitioning to virtual jobs. Americans everywhere then realized they’d be braving a whole new world and reality.

With college students home and everyone under the same roofs, families are having to stock up on food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies and live their lives as normal as possible.

Aside from the need for everyday essentials, students of all ages are transitioning to online education, and their parents are doing the same. This time of change has forced many out of their comfort zones. 

The Purvis family is a perfect example of how COVID-19 has affected the lives of many American families. 

“Everyone is quarantined and living at home again,” said Anna Purvis. “This is pretty difficult, because I’ve been living on my own for the past two years, and being home with my family again is an adjustment.” 

Purvis, a student at the University of Mississippi, and her Meridian-based family are having to adjust to a new way of life. Just two weeks ago, they were running their new restaurant, Jean’s, preparing for their son to graduate high school, and planning to visit their daughter, Anna, at college in spring.

With both children now living at home, there is a higher demand for more everyday essentials, and they’re having to navigate a new family dynamic. 

“Everybody is living under the same roof again, and that means more money spent on food and other necessities for our family,” said mom, Sara Purvis. “My home is a mess.”

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a statewide stay-at-home order last week. Residents are asked to only leave their homes for groceries, necessary jobs, and medical attention.

As a family, the Purvises have been participating in social distancing and following the guidelines set by the CDC and the state. The health of their family, their community, and the prevention of COVID-19 is important to them. 

I’m not sure exactly how to prepare for the future,” said son, Wesley Purvis. “I’m just trying to live as normally as possible and keep a schedule.”

For new business owners like the Purvises, this meant closing their doors. Now they are wondering what happens next.

“I live in Meridian, Mississippi, and most of the stores and restaurants are closed down,” said Anna Purvis. “My family just recently opened a restaurant less than a year ago, so this is extremely difficult for us having a new business.” 

The long term effects of the virus are still unknown. Many are trying to stay hopeful, but are feeling uneasy about the future of the economy. Our communities and the people in them are all being affected in one way or another. Every aspect of our lives has been touched by the effects of COVID-19. 

“I think because so many stores and restaurants have shut down, the economy will be affected,” said Anna Purvis. “Many people are going to permanently lose homes and jobs.”

Even though this time has been a difficult adjustment, they are doing their part as a family to keep themselves and their community healthy.

“We want to do our part to flatten the curve, so we’ve all stayed home and only left the house for necessities,” said Sara Purvis. “I definitely think social distancing has helped our family. We are trying to stay home and suppress the chance of getting the virus or passing it on to others.”

Adjusting to working from home is not easy, especially when you have to juggle everyday obligations.

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Allison Pates

Allison Pates, a working mother of four, offers the following tips.

“The absolute best possible advice I can give is to get up at the normal time you would to go to work and get your kids to school,” she said. “Do your normal morning routine, but instead of driving to work and school, sit down at a nice organized desk or table and begin your work.”

Procrastination and indulging in extra sleep in the morning can be very tempting, but trying to keep your pre-quarantine routine can be beneficial to your physical and mental health.

“I would recommend getting your kids’ schoolwork out of the way first,” Pates said, “so then they are free to go play, and you have some peace and quiet to concentrate on your work.”

Are you having trouble getting your kids to cooperate? Pates suggested small rewards such as 30 minutes of extra screen time or even a little extra of their favorite dessert after dinner.

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