The Times West Virginian

October 8, 2012

Not slowing down

Flexible jobs help Tobin family stay on track

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Having flexible jobs and a special calendar helps the Tobin family stay on track with everyone’s schedules.

Nora and Don Tobin, of Fairmont, have four children, Deirdre, Kevin, Sinead and Billy. Nora works at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown while Don teaches computer science at Fairmont State University.

“I can make my own schedule and I usually work the night shift depending on the kids’ activities and commitments we have going on,” Nora said. “It works out really well.”

Don teaches four classes a week at FSU. Between teaching hours, planning hours and doing research, Don’s schedule can also be very flexible.

Three of the Tobin kids live at home. The oldest, Deirdre, is away at college.

“She is a sophomore now and she goes to Washington and Lee University in Virginia,” Nora said. “I thought the pace of the house would slow down when she left, but I don’t think so.”

Deirdre visits when she gets a break from school but remains busy and involved at college.

Kevin is a senior at Notre Dame High School. He plays soccer and tennis for the school but is also involved in coaching soccer.

“He’s looking forward to going to WVU next year,” Nora said. “He likes music and going to movies with his friends.”

With two vehicles in the family, Kevin drives himself to school, which helps with scheduling.

“That has definitely eased the scheduling with drivers,” Nora said. “Up until now we had a carpool going. It definitely has made life easier with him driving himself.”

Sometimes there is give and take with the vehicles, but the family usually works it out.

Sinead is the second youngest in the family and is an eighth-grader at Fairmont Catholic. She is involved with extracurricular activities.

“Right now she is very, very busy with cross country and runs six days a week,” Nora said. “She also plays basketball and runs track. She is involved in 4-H and she has participated in a lot of plays up at Fairmont State University.”

Cross country practice is convenient for Sinead because they practice after school when Nora is still home and can take her to practice. It is also helpful that the Tobins live close to FSU, where she can walk to play practice.

“It’s about a five-minute walk to take her and bring her back,” Nora said. “We are very fortunate where we live, and we have a great neighborhood.”

The youngest, Billy, enjoys playing the piano and is on two soccer teams. He also attends Fairmont Catholic.

“He’s one of those kids that just likes everything,” Nora said. “He is very involved in sports. It’s kind of hectic but he’s also been in plays at Fairmont State. He just wants to do all kinds of things.”

Nora uses a calendar her oldest daughter Deirdre got her a few years ago. The calendar has several columns, one for each family member’s schedule.

“Everybody has a column,” Nora said. “At the beginning of the year when the school calendar comes out I write in all the dates. My husband says if it’s not on the calendar it’s not going to happen, and there’s a lot of truth in that.”

When Deirdre came home from college and saw that she no longer had a column, her mother said she was a little upset.

It doesn’t happen often, but when the family gets some free time they enjoy spending time with each other.

“It’s simple things like we love to play board games,” Nora said. “We go to Morgantown to go out to eat. We really enjoy going to Barnes & Noble for a couple of hours to read.”

If it’s a nice day the family might have a picnic. They also enjoy going to Pittsburgh and visiting the Carnegie Science Center.

One tradition the Tobin family has is going to the Little League World Series every year. Don takes the kids to Williamsport, Pa., to watch the teams.

“It’s one of those things where they get up at 3 in the morning, go and watch the games and get home at 3 in the morning,” Nora said. “It’s something they enjoy. They have been going for about four or five years now.”

Thanks to flexible jobs and a special calendar, the Tobin family can make sure everyone gets where they are going.

“I’ve been very fortunate actually because I try to make all the kids’ sports events,” Nora said. “Occasionally there’s a conflict, but very, very rarely.”

Email Emily Gallagher at of follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.