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Getting Back to "normal".....

I remember when my children were little. Being home for summer was a break in the routine. Getting back to "school-mode" was always considered a challenge by parents in the neighborhood. I started early on giving my children a "routine". It wasn't super strict, but more of a guideline- a loose routine to follow but also one which allowed for flexibility. When summer started coming to an end, I would begin the "back to school" schedule. Earlier bedtimes, a more set time for dinner, and the dreaded getting up earlier. I did this gradually. While other parents thought I was crazy and allowed their children to continue the summer freedom till the bitter end, I stuck to my idea. The benefit? My kids never had trouble getting up for school. They eased into the schedule with minimal difficulties. The other parents reported such difficulties in getting their children in the new routine, it gave me anxiety just to listen!

Our animal companions benefit from a schedule as well. While they don't understand clocks, they do understand time. They "read" time by the sun, the moon, the smell in the air, and the activity that takes place. Knowing when things will happen helps them control their bodily functions, and also pace their self-entertainment.

Many people have been working from home and their animal companions benefited from the constant company of their humans. With things slowly opening up, many people are going back to work outside of their home. I am hearing many complaints and worries about their companions since this move to "normalcy". Many people are reporting "accidents" in the home or worse, their companions appear depressed. I hate to say it, but yes, they most likely are depressed or sad. They are definitely feeling lonely. They are definitely a bit confused.

If you have not made the transition to back to work yet, I strongly encourage starting to get your companion used to being alone for longer periods of time. Start getting back to a routine that you used to have. Little by little, do things that you used to do before working from home. This could be something as simple as taking your briefcase to the front door and then when you leave, take it with you. It could be using a phrase that you used to use before going to work. It could be going for walks at the times you used to walk them.

When you do go back to work, the transition will be easier for your companion. I would also leave a t-shirt or something that has your scent on it for company. If they are used to hearing you on the phone all day, leave a talk radio show on the radio (low, so it isn't annoying after a while). If you have a timer for the radio, that would be great too. Remember to use your phrases when leaving and when returning. Animals respond to the familiar.

Your companions will adjust to the new schedule, but how long it takes for this adjustment is dependent on how well you prepare them for the change. Be patient with them and yourself. Change is not always easy for any being. Remember, you are everything to your companion. They rely on you for comfort but also guidance. How you act, will determine how they act.

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