Looking for a way to teach your kids responsibility in a challenging yet enjoyable way? Get them a pet! Taking care of a pet is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. You essentially add another member to your family that will fill the years with extra fun.

Whether you’re starting with a goldfish or bringing a furry friend into the home, kids will need some help grasping the responsibility and using it to grow. Here’s how you can help them become the best pet parents they can be:

Set a Feeding Schedule

The most important thing to do as a pet owner is to make sure your little critter is being properly fed. Setting a feeding schedule develops a good routine for your children, as well as for the pet’s lifestyle. Put a recurring event into an online calendar, and feeding time will never get forgotten.

If you have multiple kids, your Calendar can be used to rotate them through this responsibility. This ensures that everyone shares a part of the chore equally. Keeping track of whose turn it is to feed the cat will also reduce the number of arguments trying to determine whose turn it actually is.

Make Time for Activity

Most pets need some activity throughout the day to stretch their legs and keep them happy. Puppies, in particular, need to be played with a lot. Other pets, such as hermit crabs, fish, and reptiles, won’t need as much attention, but it’s still good for kids to make time for them.

Since dogs are one of the most common pets and one of the most endearing, they make for a perfect example. Puppies should be walked daily, and benefit from sticking to a routine. Help your kids pick out good times to go on walks using Calendar and help them stick with the routine they set. As a result, the puppy will be happy and healthy, and your children will learn valuable principles about commitment and time management.

Remember to Clean

Animals aren’t known for their cleanliness. So part of the responsibility of a pet owner is cleaning up regularly. A clean pet is a happy one, and a healthy one at that.

Each type of pet requires a different amount of cleaning. For example, a fish tank only needs to be cleaned every couple of weeks instead of a litter box that might need to be cleaned out every other day. Your Calendar will reflect the needs of your pet of choice. At least set a recurring reminder for your kids to check the pet’s area, even if it doesn’t always need to be cleaned out.

This is another chore that could use the guiding hand of a Calendar. Kids will always want to play with their pets, but won’t be lining up to do the cleaning. In the same way, you organize feeding responsibilities, make sure everyone is sharing the burden of cleaning equally.

[Related: 10 Fun Summer Activities to Plan With Your Pet ]

Keep a Record

While not a necessity, having your children keep a record of how they care for their pets can be an excellent teaching experience. Keeping a journal of any kind helps to improve one’s memory and communicate their feelings more effectively. In the case of a productivity journal such as this, kids can learn how to stay organized, set goals, and commit to a project.

Your kids can keep a record of when they feed, clean, or play with their pets. They can even keep health records in this journal that might be relevant in the future. Even if none of the information is needed down the road, it’s a good practice for them to stay on top of it. They can also take not of fun experiences to read back later in life as a way to preserve memories.

Make Them Earn It

Let’s talk about the time leading up to getting a pet. While surprising the family with a new dog is exciting and wonderful, you’re also dropping a huge responsibility into their laps. Try warming them up to the idea of a pet by making them earn it. You’ll be able to gauge their commitment and capabilities before you end up doing everything to take care of the pet by yourself.

Assign your kids some smaller responsibilities so they can prove they can work their way up to the responsibility of owning a pet. Taking care of a plant, completing a chore list, and being proactive with homework are all activities that can be pursued in preparation for a pet. Use your Calendar to track their progress and make sure their motivation lasts longer than just a week.

Teach About Money

Pets can be expensive. While you shouldn’t expect your kids to foot every bill, you can also use this opportunity to teach financial responsibility. Kids can be taught how to save and spend money while taking care of a pet.

Kids can earn some allowance money by doing chores that can be used to pay for pet food, collars, and toys. There are tons of little lessons that can be taught throughout this process, like sales tax, saving practices, and good old-fashioned hard work. Transactions can also be tracked in your kids’ pet journal, which can show them just how expensive owning a pet can be.

Looking back at all the pictures and memories you make, you won’t be able to imagine life without a pet. Talk it over with your family and use your Calendar to make a plan that will change your family for the better.

[Related: Keep Your Fur Babies Healthy with Microsoft Calendar]

Image Credit: владимир-васильев; pexels; thank you!