Growing up, I was surrounded by a cacophony of pets. From your typical dogs and cats to the more atypical ducks, mice and even piranha (yes, I said piranha). So it is no shocker to anyone knowing that, now as an adult, our home is home to several pets from furry to semi-aquatic.

Having pets to love on has been proven to reduce stress in adults. According to a 2015 Harris Poll, people with pets had lower blood pressure and heart rates. And new research is streaming in about pets and helping with mental health. And in this day and age, we all need some help with mental health.

For families with children, the benefit continues. When I was 10, having anxiety was unheard of. Now children are dealing with all kinds of anxiety and having something soft and furry to love and care for helps them deal with the stress of everyday life.

Personally, I have a high anxiety child who is, without exaggeration, obsessed with our dog. We have a Chihuahua and Jack Russell mix who is a very sweet and hyper little thing, and one of my children wakes up asking for her, comes home from school looking for her, and cannot go to sleep without her at the foot of the bed. The dog is soothing and a constant source of love for my child.

A family pet (or five) also brings children a sense of responsibility. My 2-year-old wakes up every morning incredibly excited about feeding the cats.

“Feed cats, Mom! Feed Johnny and D’Lila,” he yells as I attempt to change his diaper.

My 5-year-old loves to feed our pair of red-eared sliders and add water to their tank.

My older children walk the dog and bathe her. They’re also old enough to clean out the kitty litter and do some yard pooper-scooping. They may not love the dirty work of having pets, but they are old enough to see the trade off of benefits.

With four very active and busy children, I do get asked on occasion why I would add a dog, two cats, and two turtles to the mix of our home. But honestly, it’s not a home without these four-legged family members. If you have pets — whether they bark or run in a tiny wheel or swim in a tank — you get it.

They make your kids, and you, smile.

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