Breaking Free: Balancing jobs and keeping kids engaged? A demanding yet effortless task for two flexible parents | Articles

Breaking Free: Balancing jobs and keeping kids engaged? A demanding yet effortless task for two flexible parents | Articles

Courtney Lee lived in one house for her entire life, since 1991. Eventually, she met and married her husband Jackson Martin, and soon thereafter, two children were born, son Beau (2016) and daughter Stella (2020). 

Life couldn’t be sweeter for the Martin family, but then came the pandemic, and soon, the kids were pulled out of pre-school and daycare. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the parents from getting their kids outside and avoiding the life of staying inside.  

“We were able to get them outside every day for about two hours, which dramatically improved their mental state for the rest of the day,” Martin said. 

That is critical in this day and age. Quarantine rules have largely kept families inside the house and forced them to cancel any potential summer travel plans. It even kept those who wished to have their freedom at bay, having them come home to stay with their families and abide by strict rules while managing their jobs until regulations are relaxed, and more doors are open. 

That wasn’t the case for the Martins. Instead, they used this time to help their kids develop. On a typical day, the family is up early, while most tend to sleep in a little. While outside, the kids have the opportunity to wake themselves up before coming home and beginning their day. 

“We both have our time with them and getting them outside, engaging them outside, like Jackson said, um, our backyard swing set has been a saving grace for us,” Lee said. “We also have a little makeshift driving range where Beau and Jackson can hit some softballs.”

Their work schedules coordinate very well, and they manage to work with the kids at home most of the time. Though both the kids are now in the process of heading back to pre-school and daycare, when it came to keeping up with school while at home, both parents took turns keeping their kids up to date with their education. 

“The school sent him (Beau) worksheets, and we do worksheets. We worked on writing his letters,” Lee said. “We bought some dry erase sheets that just have both an individual lighter on each sheet, and then he would work on tracing those.”

However, you can’t keep yourself occupied with the kids’ schoolwork forever. After all, as parents, just because you can’t go to the office doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to work and provide for the kids. In the case of Martin and Lee, they are in a flexible situation where they have time to get the kids engaged while also tending to their daily lives. 

There are days, however, where being home and managing the kids can be difficult. Lee’s work sometimes keeps her firmly at her desk where she can’t be with the kids, and while Martin’s schedule is a bit more flexible, he too is sometimes required to be on the phone for long periods, leaving the kids to find ways to keep themselves engaged when mom and dad are busy. 

Thankfully, according to Martin, the power of Netflix and Disney+ played a significant role in helping alleviate the situation. Right now, only their son Beau is allowed near the TV, and he is a big fan of movies. Martin says movies are better as TV shows tend to run for only a short time and switch, whereas a movie can keep him focused for a more extended period. 

Once the workday is over, it’s back to fresh air in the neighborhood. Thankfully, for the Martins, they are fortunate to live in a quiet area where many families have kids; but most have either moved on or are in college. That gives them the joy of just going around and visiting the nearby playground to let their kids run around and essentially be free. 

Still, the pandemic did cause some disappointment. In this family’s case, they were not near friends and no birthday party gatherings. With kids at such a young age, just being able to see their friends, play with new toys and enjoy the company of others is considered the best life. COVID restrictions, on the other hand, nullified such things. 

“The kids crave being inside other kids’ houses,” Lee said. “That’s one of the things that they wanted is to resume play dates and to be able to go into other kids’ houses because their world is invested in toys.”

With brighter days ahead, Martin and Lee are excited to go back out and enjoy the benefits of being in a restaurant and seeing family consistently. However, they aren’t in a rush to do so and enjoy the time with their kids and watching them grow. 

It’s a beautiful sight that parents and kids across the country should take notice of. But, you better enjoy and take advantage of this time while it lasts, as it will never come back. Sure, it took a pandemic this time, but in the end, your family will always come first, whether you are 4 or 40 years old. 

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