Taking breaks in your pet sitting day
Important encouragement for Christmas and any day!
Despite the Christmas photo and the fact that I'm writing this on Christmas day 2021, this post is not just about Christmas day. It is about any day in the life of a professional pet sitter.
One of the reasons I'm writing this blog is to share some of the wisdom I acquired during the 16 years I had a pet sitting business, so today I thought I'd sit down and write a few words about the importance of taking breaks during your pet sitting day.
A pet sitter's day can be slow and quiet or very busy and hectic. In busy seasons a pet sitter can be run ragged - driving here and there, walking lots of dogs, sifting lots of litter boxes, going up and down stairs in clients' homes, answering and making phone calls, etc. You get my drift.
It is important for a sitter's physical and mental health to take breaks. It's not like you're working for a company - this is your own business -so you get to set your own breaks.
However, speaking from experience, when it is your own business sometimes we tend to never take a break because there is always "something to do". True, but it isn't healthy in the long run.
One thing that helped me is to take advantage of the little or not-so-little breaks that take place during the course of one's day. For instance, I might have two early morning pet visits at homes with cats, but then the next pet visit isn't for an hour so there is time to do "something". What is that "something"?
The "something" could be pulling into a coffee shop, taking a little working break to re-visit your appointments, texting clients, returning calls, and the like.
OR, sometimes it could also mean pulling into a coffee shop, having a leisurely cup of tea or coffee, enjoying some people watching, writing in your journal, or meeting up with a friend, or making non-pet sitting phone calls. It could be sitting on a park bench and just vegging, breathing, and NOT looking at your phone for a while.
Pet sitters do a lot of walking and running around, so breaks are necessary. Your body needs the break.
Sometimes people think pet sitters can make their own schedules and that is true to a point. You can say yes or no to a client or the number of clients you take, but once you commit to a "yes", then the pets usually have to be visited at specific times - like 6 AM for medication or a dog walk, or noon for the same, or even 9 pm for a last piddle break of the day. So, when you have a day that goes from early morning to later in the evening, you need to schedule in a few breaks - which includes mealtimes for yourself.
If you are a solo pet sitter this might be more difficult to do because you have no back - up or staff. It is just you. All the more important to set some break boundaries.
I'm lucky because I live in a beautiful area by the water, so if I had a dog walk in one town, I could stop and sit by the river or beach for 20 minutes and relax, and then continue on to my next visit most of the time when the weather was pleasant. But there are parks throughout everyone's neighborhood and cute coffee shops to visit for breaks so keep a lookout for great break spots as you drive from Visit A to Visit B.
Another way you can put breaks into your day is to set some work break boundaries - like for example, times where you are not available for business calls/texts/emails received. This can be a challenge because we are all so wired to our devices, but we must use self-discipline.
Professional pet sitters - like all professions- can wear a person out. Our nation has many sick people in it (and I'm not talking Covid) - we are actually the sickest nation on the planet. We have lots of chronic illnesses, obesity, laziness, and poor boundary setting. As a result, we can do ourselves irreparable harm if we take the need to care for ourselves lightly.
I say this to younger pet sitters as well as older sitters. The habits you create as a young person and the bad things you eat can do serious damage in the long run. So, take breaks. Care for yourself in this way. You'll find that you are more attentive, more relaxed, and happier if you do so.
Self-discipline. Self-discipline. Self-discipline.
I guess that is my encouragement to all of you wonderful pet sitters out there as we leave another crazy year on planet earth and embark on another year that just may prove itself to be even crazy.
Above all, keep the faith. Pray much. Be honest. Love your work. Hug as many pets as you can in 2022!