The eternal circle of life is based on the foundation of a family. We at TomKings Puppies take a broad view of family: we believe that not only our parents, siblings and children are part of the family, but our dogs are too. Just like children, dogs bring great joy and happiness to all of us. At the same time, they both come with a huge responsibility, which is why it is important to prepare ahead for the duties of a father, whether it is a human baby or a puppy. In this article, Geri, one of the founders of TomKings Puppies, talks about how he prepared for fatherhood with her little dog Lola and later her daughter Elza.
Becoming father can be tough
I think mother nature has worked out well that we have to wait 9 months for a baby to arrive. That’s plenty of time to adjust to fatherhood. At first we’re just maturing the idea in our minds, then as we see our partner’s belly grow, we think more and more about our new role. During this period I talked a lot to friends and acquaintances who already had children. I tried to ask for advice on what to prepare for.
My acquaintances prepared me for the fact that many areas of our lives would be turned upside down once our baby arrived. I had to prepare myself for the unexpected and accept that there were things I simply could not control.
For me, it helped that we had adopted a puppy, Lola, a few years earlier. With a new four-legged family member, I had the opportunity to get a taste of parenthood. We waited months for Lola from the moment she was born. And even though I already knew how to handle a puppy because of TomKings, experiencing the day-to-day care and responsibility of a puppy is a whole new world. We also had to get up at night because Lola woke us, we had to feed her on time, and we took her to the doctor when she got sick. While waiting for the birth of our little girl Elza, I experienced many other similarities between dog parenting and fatherhood.
1. Read at least 3 good book about fatherhood
There are many resources available to new dads today to help them prepare. Internet blogs, forums, Facebook groups, books, TV shows, specialist advice, you name it. If you’re a typical bookworm, it’s worth choosing a credible source over unreliable forums that can be edited by anyone. Dozens of first-time dads’ reference books are available, whether from the library, Amazon, or even as ebooks.
For dads expecting their first child, I recommend The Expectant Father: the Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be. It will prepare you for what to expect during the 9 months of pregnancy. It shows you how your partner’s body and temperament will change and what stage of development the fetus is at.
Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads is a real survival book once your baby has arrived. What I like most about the book is that it is a realistic portrayal. It shows what a newborn baby looks like (and why), but it also has practical advice like how to hold a baby safely in your arms.
Later, when the child starts to interact with the outside world, Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently-Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage will be really useful. The book will help you understand how to raise your child as a couple. A must-read for spouses and partners with children!
And to help you adopt and care for your puppy, we have our own downloadable e-books for you: the Ultimate Guide to Adopting a Frenchie, the Ultimate Guide to Raising a Frenchie, and the 229 pages-long Frenchie Love, which will help you become the best French bulldog owner ever!
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2. Agree on parenting essentials with your partner
It was very important for my partner and me to discuss the division of chores and the new rules in advance. In my opinion, the one who invests more time and energy in raising the child or dog has a greater say in both child rearing and dog ownership. In our home, my partner does most of the work, but I have tried to take the extra burden off her shoulders in many ways.
In my opinion, evening bathing is a fatherly duty. As I am not at home during the day, at least I can take care of our little girl in the evening while her mother is resting. After the birth of our daughter Elza, I also helped out with chores that I used to do less, such as cooking, washing and cleaning. Before she was born, we agreed that we would never contradict each other in front of the baby, as it is important to be consistent and to reinforce each other’s authority. If we disagree on something, we always discuss it privately.
It was the same with our dog Lola. Before she came to us, my wife and I discussed the guidelines, for example, who has to take her for her morning walk, and who has to feed her. We agreed that neither of us wants to feed her from the table, and that Lola was not allowed to come up to bed.
However, even though we discussed these beforehand, you all know very well how the large and innocent-eyed dogs can beg to lie down between us… and as it happens, we gave in. At first we only let her up to bed in the morning, for half an hour after waking. Then, day after day, Lola gave us an earlier signal, until we found ourselves with the dog lying between us at night, and we couldn’t sleep peacefully.
At this point, my wife and I sat down again and agreed to go back to the original set-up: Lola was not allowed on the bed, and we have stuck to this strictly ever since. My advice to you is to sit down with your family a few weeks after the arrival of your baby or puppy and go over the house rules again. If necessary, make changes.
3. Get ready physically, sleep as much as you can
Having a child can be a good motivation to get your physical well-being in order. You can start by quitting bad habits, such as smoking. Young children can smell the unpleasant odor of tobacco and will push away those who smell unpleasant. It is also worth preparing physically for the arrival of your baby, as you will often have to lift her, squat, crawl, or even run after her. The pushchair and baby equipment are also a considerable weight to be moved every day, for example when climbing stairs. That’s why I recommend everyone to start exercising if they haven’t done so before.
It is the same with dog parenting, which is also something you should be physically prepared for. If you haven’t spent much time outdoors, it’s worth getting fit. Start taking longer walks or jogging slowly so that when your four-legged friend arrives, you can greet her with active games such as frisbee, jogging or playing catch. Active toys are beneficial for a developing dog in many ways. As well as developing their motor skills, you can burn off excess energy so your dog is less likely to damage your personal belongings, such as chewing on your shoes and furniture.
4. Acquire the necessary baby furniture
It is true that having a child and a dog also entails financial costs. You might think that a baby hardly needs anything, but that’s not entirely true. She will need her own bed, a small bath, a changing table, toys and clothes. As the baby grows, the furniture she needs will change, as they quickly outgrow the cot and clothes. Because of their short life span, you can buy them second-hand, as most baby furniture is used by a family for a year or two and can be passed on in good condition. I suggest you browse the local craigslist or Facebook marketplace before you buy a new piece of furniture that would cost you a fortune! You will often see branded items that have hardly been used by the previous owner.
Your puppy will also need its own bed, feeding bowls, toys and even clothes (like a TomKings hoodie)! Small dogs like a Frenchie need to be protected from extreme temperatures. In winter, they should be given a coat and boots, and in summer a cooling vest and small shoes to protect them from burned skin.
5. Babyproofing your home
Establishing a safe home is an important task before the arrival of both the child and the dog. Both can grow up in the blink of an eye, and trouble can happen in any second if we don’t act in advance.
Once babies start crawling, they can crawl to any part of the home. This is not necessarily good, as even the most ordinary objects can be dangerous for them. That’s why we put all the vases and fragile objects at a height where Elza can’t reach them for a few years. Street shoes are always stored in a cupboard so that she doesn’t accidentally put one in her mouth. We have also fenced off the stairs so she doesn’t fall down them. We put rubber corner protectors on the sharp corners of tables and furniture so that she doesn’t hit her head too hard while she was learning to walk. Once she learned to walk, we also had to secure the garden so she wouldn’t run out into the street.
Adopting a dog requires similar preparations. If you live in a house with a garden, it’s a good idea to check the fence and reinforce it where your dog could reach out or where another animal, such as a raccoon or fox, could get in. If you want to let your dog into your home, make sure you fence off the stairs. A puppy is not yet agile enough to climb stairs without problems. For small dogs, such as French bulldogs, it is also a good idea to put a step next to the bed or sofa so they don’t have to jump off it. For small dogs, jumping from a high place is dangerous and can cause broken bones. It’s a good idea to put fragile objects and shoes in a safe place where they can’t be touched by your dog. For more useful advice, read this article!
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6. Find the best infant car seat
It is no exaggeration to say that parents’ greatest treasure is the health and safety of their child. Just as you take care of your child in other areas of life, you need to take care of your child’s physical well-being when traveling by car. That’s where a car seat can help.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a car seat is the size. A child car seat can only do its job, i.e. protect your child from possible injury, if it is the right size for your child’s height and weight. A child seat that is too big will not be able to protect him or her properly in a crash. If the frame of the child car seat is too large for the child’s body size, it will not hold the child well enough and the child may fall out of the seat in a crash. But not only the oversized car seats are dangerous, but also the too small ones. If you wait too long to buy your child a bigger car seat that is the right size for her body size, her safety is also at risk in a crash. A seat that is too small will not hold properly and will not protect critical parts of the child’s body, such as the head and neck.
Because the muscles of newborn babies are still very weak, the impact on the baby in a possible collision should be cushioned as much as possible. Riding rear-facing is the best way to protect the newborn from injury. For this reason, it is essential that the child travels rear-facing when newborn. Later, when the child is bigger, has stronger muscles and can hold his or her head better, the child seat can be turned around. Up to around 2 years of age, a child can ride rear-facing comfortably.
If you have a dog, you will feel that she shouldn’t be left out of anything and you will want her to travel with you at most of the time. Your dog is a member of the family and a full passenger. Whether you’re going shopping, on a trip or simply getting from A to B, when your four-legged friend is along for the ride, it’s all about the equipment that helps you get around.
We often take Lola with us during the day, and of course she gets very excited. She’s bouncing, yapping and, if she could, she’d be jumping up and down in the car. But this is very dangerous, which is why we got a special dog seat. It gives her the freedom she needs, yet keeps her fixed enough not to jump around and disturb you while driving, and also prevents Lola from falling out of the window when she’s nosing around a bend. What’s more, the dog seat protects the car upholstery, so there’s less dog hair to vacuum up!
7. Family finances
When the family grows, the costs also increase. These extra costs now affect all the family, so it’s a good idea to sit down and discuss the family budget. You should keep in mind that in the months after the baby arrives, the mother will be completely out of the labour market. Even during the following years, she will probably be able to contribute to the family budget partially. This period can be mentally and physically demanding for fathers, as the pressure is on, and the lives of many people depend on it.
It is also a time when couples face new financial challenges which, if not discussed, can lead to serious arguments and frustration for both partners. It’s a good idea to start building up the family budget by listing the fixed costs: rent or mortgage repayments, utility bills, common expenses, groceries, car payments, fuel. Once you have these listed, you can add the specific costs: mobile phone subscription, hairdresser, entertainment, clothing. At this point, you should already be factoring in the costs of the new family member, because as I mentioned earlier, a baby also comes with extra expenses.
Once you know what you’re spending in a month, you can work out how much money you have left to spend – or what you can save on if you’re on a tight budget. It’s all a matter of discussion: you could agree to both temporarily cut back on spending on entertainment, such as going to fewer matches, buying fewer clothes or cooking at home instead of eating out.
For former working mums, an existential crisis can also occur if they suddenly have no income of their own and always have to ask their partner for money. This existential crisis can lead to frustration and conflict, so it’s worth preventing it by setting a temporary monthly budget that mothers can spend freely without asking for permission.
A new puppy will also incur fixed and occasional costs. Fixed costs include good quality dog food and dog insurance, while occasional costs include regular medical check-ups and vaccinations, or the cost of a flight ticket, pet hotel or dog walker while you go on a vacation. These should be factored into the family budget, as a dog is as much a part of the family as a baby.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best advice for first time fathers?
Talk to people who have been through a similar situation in the last few years! Read books about fatherhood or listen to podcasts on the subject! You have 9 months to prepare, and it’s a good idea to spend as much time as possible preparing yourself mentally and physically for the arrival of the new family member.
How does becoming father change you?
By becoming a father, you will be responsible for more things. From now on, you’ll not only have to take care of yourself, but also of a new life and your partner.
What is the most important thing to do when preparing for fatherhood?
Constant communication with your partner and periodic renegotiation of boundaries and rules are key to good parenting.
Our TomKings Frenchie Family members have also shared their experiences about the topic, if you’d like to read these, feel free to join our Facebook group!
The article is based on the expert knowledge of the TomKings Puppies team who have been breeding French Bulldogs for 10 years on their farm. If you have any questions or comments, let us know below the article!