January 19, 2012

Guest Blogger: 5 Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Dogs

Today I am super excited to be guest blogging about parenting lessons I've learned from my dogs with Emily from Nap Time is My Time.

Be sure to check out her blog, twitter and facebook!
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Now, before you go off calling me the worlds worst mom for getting my parenting tips from a pack of unruly canines, hear me out.

I've had a dog in my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, for the most part, I much prefer the company of my dogs to that of other humans. I mean not in a creepy I was raised in a wolf pack type of way, but being with my dogs is so comforting they are content to listen to me or just sit in comfortable silence. Anyway, when I was twenty years old my parents gave me a miniature schnauzer puppy of my very own for Christmas. She would travel back to Colorado with me and live with me while I was in college. I was so excited to bring my Maggie Mae home on December 28th, 2003.

I soon learned these lessons in parenting from my eight week old puppy and the three dogs and two cats who have since become mine in these eight years.

1) It's Not All About Me Anymore
I remember that first morning with my Maggie. She woke me up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 (I was Junior in college so 6:30 is ungodly) and needed to go outside. I remember dragging my rear end out of bed and down the stairs to take her outside. After we came back in I remember moaning to my mother that I was never going to get any sleep ever again. She told me I would sleep again, I would get used to it and that when you had a small helpless creature dependent entirely on you, you just have to do what needs to be done and you make room because that creature is yours. Eventually, I got used to getting up for early morning walks, rushing home between classes to check on her and even started ducking out of weekend soirees to go home to my baby. This lesson was invaluable the first few months as a new mom. Pretty soon though my mom's words rang true again. I got used to the late night feedings, the lack of sleep and I made room in my life for this tiny helpless baby because she was mine and I loved her more than anything. Now, just as when Maggie was a puppy, I can't remember what life was like before my sweet Evie.

2) Consistency Is Key
I believe dogs inherently crave routine. They enjoy a certain predictability in their days. Even before Evie we got up at a certain time to let the dogs out and they eat at the same time each day. I've come to learn that children are the same way. Evie loves consistency. She thrives because her days are predictable. Like dogs, this routine gives her a sense of comfort and reassurance.

3) Extra Snuggles Can Cure a Multitude of Ills
This is true for mommy, baby and puppy. There are times when Maggie is scared, hurt or sick she just needs to be close to me, her pack leader, which translates to Mommy. As for me, sometimes when I am down for any number of reasons I just need some puppy love. I quickly learned that she same is true for Evie. She might be sick, hurt, tired or possibly just feeling insecure. Either way she just needs her momma. When I have a rough day at work or I am sick just seeing Evie's smile brightens my day and eases my burdens. Sometimes we both just need some extra snuggles.

4) Poop Happens
You know what babies and dogs really have in common? They all drool, pee, poop and throw-up, a lot. Yes, it's gross, but you just clean it up and move on. I've never relished getting Evie's poop on me but trust me, when you've seen the stuff that I have come out of a dog, baby poop is a walk in the park.

5) Learn to Dance in the Mess
My life has never been calm. There is no way a life with four dogs and two cats ever could be less than chaotic. There is always a scuffle to break up, a dog to comfort, a cat to shoo off a counter or hungry mouth to feed. I quickly learned that given the chance my dogs would drag every single toy they owned out of their toy box and leave them sitting about the house. When this happened I had two choices, scold them and sigh as I picked their never ending plethora of toys back up or laugh at them playing tug of war or in Reily's case hoarding about ten babies under her paws on her bed. I missed out on a lot of the joy of pet ownership wasting time sighing heavily at them for the messes they were making. They taught me patience and that dancing in the mess is a lot more fun than a tidy perfect house. Evie makes messes faster than I thought possible. If she's not throwing every pacifier she owns out of her crib, she's gleefully tossing toys out of her pack-n-play, licking a dog or cat or smearing food in her ears. I can scold and sigh or I can laugh and enjoy every second of Evie's oh-so-fleeting baby hood. After all the mess will be there tomorrow and the day after, but pretty soon my chubby cheeked little angel will turn into a little girl and I don't want to miss these moments.

{Maggie Meeting Newborn Evie for the First Time}