The ONLY national non-profit organization for professional pet sitters.

Time Out - To Take Care of YOU!

To Take Care Of YOU!
You take care of your business every day for 8, 10, 12 hours.  You may have a family and your own pets to care for.  You have your home to take care of.  You may have outside lawn and garden duties too.

YOU ARE AMAZING!  Everyone says so. 
YOU ARE SO ORGANIZED!  People comment about how much you can get done. 
YOU ARE A MULTI TASKER!  You cannot be stopped.  Or can you?
 
While you are taking care of all these things, what about you?  It is not selfish to take care of yourself.  Studies prove that people who are good at self-care are more productive at work and more able to enjoy themselves at home. For example, multi-tasking can be exhausting. Focusing on the present and “single-tasking” can make you feel more calm and centered.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-wise/201209/the-true-cost-multi-tasking
Our job has physical demands. Ignoring your body’s basic daily needs can become a habit that will have consequences. In time, a variety of problems can start to affect your stamina: fatigue, depression, illness, exhaustion and burn out.

FATIGUE/EXHAUSTION
Need a nap?  Always tired?  Mental and physical fatigue will take a toll.  Have you ever fallen asleep at a red light?  Or forgot a client’s keys and have to drive back home or not remember what day it is when it is already noon?   When we multitask, studies show we are less productive.  Ever forget to do something at the current pet sit because you are thinking about the next one?
Do you take a day off once a week?  Once a month??  Once a year???

DEPRESSION
Pet sitting can be a lonely job.  Some days you may not talk to a person at all.  After a long day or a disgruntled human client or a problem pet client how do you unload that stress? Who can relate to your story and give it perspective? 
 
ILLNESS
Although we aren’t exposed to people germs, if we let our immune system get weak from lack of rest and poor nutrition we are at risk. 

BURN OUT
This is the end of the line.  You just don’t want to continue.  You’ve had it and you are ready to look for something else to do.
If you don’t deal with all the issues already listed, eventually you will be ready to give up.  Pet sitting is a very demanding job.  Maybe it isn’t the right business for you.  But if you aren’t ready to give up yet, let’s look at some ideas for creating a happier you.

SOME WAYS TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF WHILE BEING A BUSY PETSITTER

SLEEP
During the week get 6-7 hours of sleep a night.  (Weekends are usually too busy to hold to this)  If at all possible, don’t do office work after you have closed (see OFFICE HOURS below) Let your brain relax and remove as much electronic light as possible before going to bed. https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/
If you can’t sleep because you need to discuss the events of the day, find another petsitter in another town or state that you can either phone or email to “debrief” and get feedback.  NappsChat is a place to find people who are willing to talk to other pet sitters.  There are seasoned petsitters who can give good advice.
If you can’t sleep because your brain won’t stop listing all the things you need to do, simply keep a notebook and pen handy.  Write down the list.  Knowing they are written lets you release the worry that you might forget something. 
Wake up naturally if you can.  If you need something to wake you up try soft music or an alarm that uses light instead of sound.  Being forced to wake up suddenly with a blaring noise (loud music or alarm) starts the day with a jolt, though some people do like or need that.  But however you choose to wake up, take a few moments before getting up to stretch, meditate, pray or read.  This time can set the mood for the rest of the morning.
 
FOOD
It is hard to concentrate when you are so hungry you can only think about food.
Plan meals ahead when you know you will have a busy schedule.  Cook meals ahead of time and freeze in one portion quantities for quick warm ups.  Find your crock pot (everyone has one somewhere).  It is so nice to come home to a meal that is ready to eat after a long day.
SCHEDULE a lunch break and/or dinner break on your daily calendar.   It might be just 15 minutes, but take time to stop and eat.  Pack a lunch/dinner so you can eat in the car. Or find a park with a picnic table.  Remember a cold or hot drink too. And dessert.  It will make you happy. If you are able to stop at home, even better.
Always have snacks in the car for the times when you are ready to eat the steering wheel.  This will help you avoid the fast food drive-through.  The high calories and the money you spend will add up.  Pack a lunch box with energy bars, nuts, trail mix, candy, dried fruit, etc.  Cut up bite size portions of fruit or vegetables.  Dip them in peanut butter.  Or yogurt.

WATER
Always have water in the car.  Even when it is cold, you can get dehydrated.  Unlike hunger, you may not feel thirsty until you are dehydrated, which can cause physical and mental fatigue.

OFFICE HOURS/HOURS OF OPERATION
Establish office hours as though you are a brick and mortar business. This gives you the right to have personal time every day.
When do you want to start answering the phone and responding to voice mails, emails and texts?  7AM? 8AM? 9AM?
When do you want to “shut off the lights and lock the door” for    the day?  5PM? 7PM? 9PM?
Post your office hours on your website, your email signature and your voice mail. Then be very firm with yourself about keeping to them.  Unless it is a current client with an emergency, whatever it is can wait until the office is open.   Very few service businesses are open 24 hours a day.  If you WANT to have a 24 hour business, and respond to texts, emails and calls at midnight, then skip this suggestion.
It is your business.  It is your choice

Hours of Operation are the days/ times you offer pet sitting and dog walking services. This is entirely up to you.  A sitter who only takes care of cats will have different hours than a sitter who takes care of dogs.  Maybe you only want to work on the weekend.  Maybe you don’t want to work on the weekend at all.
It is your business.  It is your choice.
 
DAY OFF/TIME OFF
How can you have a day off every week?  Two ways:
Have someone else work for you on that day OR have the business closed on that day.
NOTE: if you are a solopreneur, it is always good to have a back-up person, so giving them a steady day of work each week keeps them interested and current on your routine. 
If a weekly day off just won’t work, what about an hour once a week to visit a bookstore, sit in a coffee shop, go to that new place to look around or… (fill in the blank).   At least plan something once a month to get away for a few hours or the whole day or evening and have some FUN and RELAX.  All work and no play…well, you know.  Maybe not just dull, but cranky too.

YOUR MOBILE OFFICE
We spend a lot of time driving. Have you counted how many times you get in and out of your car in a day?  That in itself can be tiring after 10 hours.  Your car is your mobile office, and is equipped with everything you need to do your job, handle emergencies, food, and water.  What about entertainment?  I have found that during busy holiday times, listening to an audio book keeps me alert and wanting to get back into the car and happily go to the next job. And to look forward to the next day’s schedule to continue the book.   Some people enjoy TED talks, interesting Podcasts, instructional or inspirational CDs, and of course music.  Keep your mind engaged and enjoy your workday.  It will make you a better pet care provider.
 
Submitted by Linda Beatty, Indianapolis, Indiana
Ask Linda Pet Sitting -Owner
Pet First Aid 4 Indiana - Instructor
Personal Puppy Training – Instructor