How to Balance Kids and Pets
When you balance a full household of kids AND pets, something might get forgotten during the hustle and bustle of a new school year or another busy life event. Here's a friendly reminder - and some tips! - to help keep it all together.
Establish a Routine
Try to stick to a daily routine, especially when life changes - like when school begins and ends, you have a job change, or your family experiences the loss of a loved one. If you have a laundry list of items to do (help with homework, give the cat her thyroid pill, fold the laundry, etc.), it's easier to make sure all your action items get done when you plug your activities into a daily routine that works.
Over the summer, for instance, you might not have had to worry about pet medication before 8 a.m. But with the kids back at school, everyone is out of the house early. A new repeatable set of actions is in order to make sure everything - and everybody! - is copacetic.
Prep the Night Before
One of your routine-making wins can be getting the bulk of your prep work done after dinner and before or after the kids are in bed. Make the coffee but don't turn it on. Pre-measure the dog food but don't set it on the floor. Pack your kids' snacks and lunches, and even consider getting breakfast ready BEFORE you retire for the day to help stave off the morning rush. (Perhaps a SNOOZE or two will be in order as your reward for such careful planning.)
Recruit Some Help
As your kids get older, it's a great idea to involve them in some pet care chores - with or without reward, as you see fit. Even a toddler can help fill a water bowl or scoop some food. Kids can help with feeding, grooming, medicating, walking and certainly entertaining the family pet(s). If you're into rewarding them, an extra dollar or two in the weekly allowance will likely go a long way toward a smile...as will a surprise treat (like a favorite snack, a sticker, or a fun eraser, etc.) in their lunchboxes.
Set Daily Reminders
There's a reason Post-It Notes are bright and colorful: They stop you in your tracks and remind you of something you forgot. If you find that your new routine is harder to keep than you envisioned, plant a few "to do" notes around the house where you're sure to see them (on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, next to your car keys, etc.) If you've gone digital, have Alexa or Google Home remind you to take care of your pet(s)...or your kid(s).
The bottom line is just because you and your human family members are doing something different than before doesn't mean your pet's needs have changed. A neglected pet might wander from the home to find food, shelter or attention...and a lost pet will likely cause more stress, worry and time than a few pet care activities do each day.
If you've lost a pet in Northern New Jersey, NJ STRAYS can help. Click here to report a lost pet.