Preparing for Parenthood with Your Pet
Some say that looking after a pet can prepare you for parenthood, by helping you adjust to the responsibility of caring for another living thing and honing your parenting skills. Although nothing can make you fully ready to welcome a child into your life, with a pet you will experience similar obstacles and learning curves to better prepare you for becoming a parent.
A Lifestyle Change
The biggest challenge of having a child is getting your head around how much they will change your life. One minute it’s just you and then all of a sudden there’s someone new who your life revolves around. This situation is similar to getting a pet – you will need to adapt your lifestyle and establish a new daily routine to fit in with their needs. Feeding, exercising, grooming, playing and bedtime all have set times, giving your day structure. Learning to adjust your life to look after your pet will help lessen the shock of when a child comes into the picture.
Rachel Khan from London found her life changed drastically after getting her two rescue Labradors. Now expecting her first child, she’s found that taking care of her dogs has been great practice to prepare her for motherhood.
Rachel is soon to go on maternity leave from her busy work life as Head of VM UK and Ireland for Calvin Klein. She’s looking forward to being able to spend more time with her dogs and reflects on how she and her husband Omar have adapted to them.
“I guess the most obvious change is that our lives already revolve around another living thing – I think that’s a shock to non-pet people. I think that you have to be a bit selfless to have a pet and put it first, so that’s good preparation for a new born baby.”
Rachel told us that her rescue dog Don has regular temper tantrums so she’ll be well equipped to deal with those embarrassing moments in the supermarket when her infant throws his toys out of the pram.
Determination and Patience
You may find a pet brings out your maternal or paternal instincts. The desire to nurture and protect offspring can be quite strong, potentially resulting in you holding them back and not letting them flourish. A pet can help you learn to let go and be supportive without smothering them.
A pet, especially during its younger years, will test your patience but also strengthen it. House training can take a while for many pets to master and there will be accidents along the way. Getting your pet out of bad habits, such as chewing or urinating on furniture, means you have to be vigilant in your training. Patience and determination will pay off in the long run.
Animals can be much more expensive than people realise. There’s the initial cost of the animal, food, bedding, injections, grooming services, microchips, neutering, plus toys and accessories. If your animal becomes ill, hefty vet bills can add up very quickly especially if your insurance won’t pay out. This however is great budgeting practice for a child, for whom you’ll need an inexhaustible amount of extra items such as prams, car seats, childcare and activities.
Along with expense of pets and children comes mess. Indoor pets need toilet training which takes a while to pick up, so there will be plenty of mistakes for you to clean up. They are usually messy eaters, often like to roll or swim in unsavoury places, can chew and destroy furniture plus bring in dead animals they’ve caught. All of this is great preparation for children who at times can be even messier.
Even if just for initial injections, you will have to take your pet to the vet at some point. This can be a scary, tense time for both of you, so learning to deal with it is crucial. If you’re calm and relaxed your pet can sense this – a great trick for when you have to take an ill child to the doctors or hospital.
Having a pet means all the responsibility falls to you. If they break something, you have to pay for it. If they damage something, you have to apologise. The same is true of children – it is your responsibility to teach them right and wrong, to nurse them, to discipline them, to educate and pay for them.
Pets, like children, need to be socialised so that they learn the correct way to interact with others. Learning to play nicely, how to share and what behaviour is unacceptable are all key aspects of social interaction.
Having a child is a much bigger responsibility then having a pet, and although nothing can completely prepare you, a pet can ease the transition and teach you some valuable skills that can make raising a child just that bit easier. Here at ID Band we love dogs so are supporting Balkan Underdogs and Help Pozega Dogs, both charities that rehome abandoned dogs, with personalised dog tags.