Sarah Burns is a professional pet sitting business owner serving the Northville, MI area since 2010. She shares with us some highlights and lessons learned from her recent holiday season.
Her biggest take-away? If you do not make consistent and deliberate time for yourself, you’ll never have what it takes to sustain a schedule of properly serving your clients.
Take it away, Sarah…
It has been a very busy holiday season (as usual). I am excited as I write this because today we will be finishing up the very last sits from the holiday and life can return to “normal!”
It’s been a long couple of weeks filled with plenty of sits and plenty of stressful moments.
Some Highlights of My Holiday Season Pet Sitting Visits
- Cat sitting visit: The owner did not inform me that the cat knows how to open the garage door, resulting in extra, unplanned visits to their house to make sure the cat wasn’t stuck in their garage in -15 degree temperatures.
- Cat sitting client: Did not inform me that when they leave the cat gets upset and destroys the potted plants, resulting in fresh dirt ALL OVER their living room.
- Almost every single client: Either scheduled wrong days and had me show up days early when it wasn’t necessary or came home early and needed to change schedules. Lets not forget the last minute cancellations that want full refunds at the holidays!
- Last but no least: The water pump on my car went, resulting in driving to pet sits for 2 days with no heat in my car in -15 degree windchill, followed by having to share one car with my husband (my business partner) to complete a schedule of holiday visits.
Add in the normal holiday craziness of trying to shop for gifts, spend time with family and actually enjoy Christmas and I’ll be the one enjoying a nice Rum and Coke by the time the day is over!
Who Can Relate!
I know my situation isn’t unique and so many of professional pet sitters experienced similar stresses, if not worse!
As much as I love pet sitting and owning my own business, there is no doubt that it’s very physically and emotionally taxing at times.
How Do You Take Time For YOU?
Coming into the New Year, how are you going to make sure that YOU are your priority?
We give so much of our time and energy to our clients and their pets, plus we have families and our own pets that need attention, so by the end of the day, we are usually last on the list to get any type of self-care and end up going through life with our personal tanks on empty.
The funny thing is that many of us feel selfish if we put ourselves first, as if it’s not allowed. We feel like life was just meant to be constantly taking care of everyone else and if we take time to make ourselves a priority, everything will fall apart.
But how can you give away what you don’t have?
How can you love and care for others when you don’t love and care for yourself? How can you get up every day and give your best dog walks and visits when you’re body is surviving off gas station snacks and fast food? How can we give energy to new clients and marketing when on the inside we are burnt out, tired and just want to give up some days?
Most pet sitters I know have the biggest hearts and just want to make others happy. It’s time to turn that love and compassion inwards.
Make This Year the Year of YOU!
- Take time everyday to refresh yourself and do self care
- Go grocery shopping and stock up on nutritious foods
- Meal plan in advance so you’re not stuck hungry without food during your route
- Exercise. And no, dog walking is not enough no matter how much you walk! Get your heart rate up! Do some strength training. Stretch your tense muscles. Not only is it good for you physically but it releases stress and tension
- Set boundaries. You don’t need to answer every text or phone call just because you heard your phone make a noise. You don’t need to say “yes” to every single appointment that gets scheduled. You don’t have to keep clients that stress you out for one reason or another, there will always be more to replace them.
- Most importantly, take care of the inner “man”. For me, that means spending time with God everyday. It refreshes my spirit and helps me to know that I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Instead, I am a partner with Him. I do what I can do and He will do what I cannot do. Even if you’re not spiritual, you can take time to refresh your soul by reading a good self-help book, journaling, talking to someone to get things out, even just taking a few moments to sit quietly somewhere and let your mind settle. We are not meant to go 1,000 miles an hour in our minds every single day and we need to take time to rest and recharge mentally, everyday!
We are so fortunate to do what we love and get paid for it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some drawbacks to our jobs and it is very important that we put ourselves first so that we can be our best for everyone else who depends on us.
What are you going to do in 2018 to put YOU first?
Can you relate to this? Was your holiday schedule just as crazy? What was the worst thing that happened? What was the best thing that happened? What changes or adjustments are you making going forward from lessons learned this past year?
Share your story with us in the comments.