March 2024

In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Dr. Justine Lee, DACVECC, DABT talks about how to make being a working veterinary parent just a little bit easier… because this stuff is HARD! Parenting is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging jobs out there, requiring endless patience, love, and energy, but let’s face it – we can’t do it all on our own. That’s where parenting hacks come in. In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical and time-saving hacks that can help make your life as a busy parent a little bit easier. From using meal delivery services to grocery delivery and finding reliable babysitters, we’ve got you covered.

By Dr. Justine Lee, DACVECC, DABT
Director of Medicine / CEO, VETgirl

Parenting Hacks: Making Being a Working Parent Easier

Being a working parent is HARD. Between juggling things at the veterinary clinic, dealing with household chores, arranging the kids’ schedules, attempting to spend time with your spouse and family, being stuck in medical records documentation or QuickBooks hell at night once the kids are in bed, cooking food for the family, and trying to pay off veterinary student debt, all while trying to “balance it all.” I mean, it’s exhausting! If you’re a parent feeling the strain of raising children and maintaining a veterinary career, it’s time to consider some life hacks. (BTW, this is one of the reasons why our VETgirl team offers FREE daycare at our VETgirl U conferences. In fact, we were the FIRST and only veterinary conference in the world to offer this back at our inaugural VETgirl U conference as we know how hard parenting is!).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t mastered this at all. But I have embraced as many “life hacks” as I could to help make it just a wee bit easier. Garret and I have talked about parenting life hacks before on a VETgirl podcast HERE. I’ve also talked about hacks for those of you who have toddlers or infants in your life right now. These simple yet effective tips can help you become more efficient with your time and make the most of what you have. With these parenting hacks, hopefully I can help you save some time, reduce stress, and stay connected with your kiddos!

1. It Takes a Village – Be Willing to Accept Help
OK, I admit. I’m terrible at asking for help. I only ask for help when I’m about to implode (HINT: Ask BEFORE you reach that level!). One of the most effective tips for working parents is to accept help. It can be hard to ask for help – we all want to feel like we can handle everything on our own. But in reality, everyone needs help sometimes. Ask friends or family members to help with childcare or swap date nights and babysitting duty with a neighborhood family. Look to your support network for assistance with household chores like shopping, cleaning, or cooking. You don’t have to do it all, so don’t be afraid to delegate. Say it with me: ASK FOR HELP!

2. Hire a Virtual Assistant
Speaking of delegating… I admit it – I have a virtual assistant (VA). And she’s been a GAME CHANGER. Virtual assistant services have become increasingly popular for busy parents. I found mine on UpWork, and regret not hiring one 5 to 10 years ago. Admittedly, I was too frugal (Hey, it’s the veterinarian in me), but once I vetted her (Get it, haha!) appropriately, I found her to be my 3rd arm. Virtual assistants can be a game changer for busy working parents, even for those who are mindful of their expenses. The time they save can far outweigh the costs. A good virtual assistant (VA) can take care of routine tasks such as scheduling, email management, and even organizing events, freeing up valuable hours for parents to focus on their work or spend quality time with their family. Virtual assistants typically work remotely, which eliminates the need for additional office space and associated costs. A good VA – totally worth their weight in gold! And the financial outlay can be seen as an investment in helping you achieve your work-life balance…  the benefits of which are immeasurable. Virtual assistants offer a wide range of skills and expertise, making them valuable assets for working parents. They can handle tasks ranging from administrative work to social media management, to buying holiday gifts to booking airplane flights to signing permission slips and scheduling doctor’s appointments, and  freeing up more time for parents to focus on high-priority responsibilities. And no, you can not ask me for mine.

3. Quality Time – Kids Often Crave Short but Intentional Quality Time
It’s easy to get caught up in work and forget to connect with your children. But kids need and crave quality time with their parents. You can make a big difference by spending just a few minutes each day really engaging and interacting with your children. Put down the phone or computer and give your kids your undivided attention. In general, there’s a rule of thumb that the age of the kid correlates with the number of quality time minutes needed a day. The best book I read in the past year? How to Break Up With Your Phone. Because your kid(s) will notice. Better to have a shorter duration of really good intentional quality time versus  a longer duration where they see you on your iPad or phone the whole time. Just sayin’. (No phubbing allowed – that’s phone snubbling for you boomers).

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

4. Embrace Efficiency – Make the Most of Your Time
There are a number of efficiencies that can help working parents maximize their time. For instance, try preparing meals and snacks in advance or consider meal prep and bulk cooking. Maybe even splurge on meal delivery services instead? Because that’s okay! After a long day of work or taking care of the kids, the last thing any parent wants to do is to spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. These handy services offer pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes, making it a breeze to whip up a delicious and healthy meal for your family. Many of these services also cater to dietary restrictions and preferences, so you can still enjoy a home-cooked meal without the added stress. Not only do meal delivery services save you time and energy, but they also introduce new and exciting recipes to your dinner routine. Plus, involving your kids in the cooking process can be a fun activity for the whole family! Better yet, consider assigning one of your teenagers a consistent day of the week that THEY do the meal prep! #delegateallthings

6. Grocery Delivery: No More Trips to the Store
Between work, school, extracurricular activities, and everything else on your to-do list, finding time to go grocery shopping can be a challenge. This is where grocery delivery services can be a game-changer. With just a few clicks on your computer or phone, you can have all your groceries delivered straight to your doorstep. No more dragging the kids to the store, no more waiting in long lines – just convenience and time saved. Some grocery delivery services even offer same-day or next-day delivery, so you never have to worry about running out of essentials. Plus, with the rise in online coupons and discounts, you may even save some money in the long run.

7. Scheduling Weekly Babysitters: A Parent’s Best Friend
As much as we love our kids, every parent needs a break once in a while. This is where finding a reliable and trustworthy babysitter comes in handy. Consider reaching out to local teenagers who are looking for some extra cash and have them come over once a week or whenever you need a break. I found mine on Nextdoor and Facebook (neighborhood page). Not only will this give you some much-needed “me time,” but it also gives your kids the chance to interact with someone new and build relationships outside of the family. Before hiring a babysitter, make sure to thoroughly vet them and have a trial run to see how they interact with your children. With proper communication and boundaries in place, babysitters can become a parent’s best friend. Commit to using them at least twice a month… because before you know it, the babysitter will be graduating high school and you’ll have to start your search all over again!

Lastly, don’t forget to take care of yourself!

8. Self-Care – Take a Breather / Set Aside Regular Time For Yourself
Finally, it’s important to take care of yourself as a working parent. While you focus on taking care of your children and managing your career, it’s important that you also make time for your own activities and self-care. Remember, put your own oxygen mask on first! By making sure your mental and physical health is taken care of, you’ll be able to survive. You can’t be effective as a parent or employee if you’re burnt out. Schedule time for self-care activities like exercising, watching your favorite show, or just taking a long bath. Get off your phone at night and read a fun book instead. Get off the sofa and go for a walk, or play cribbage or a board game with your partner. Set that time aside for yourself.

Being a busy parent is no easy feat and requires careful management of your time, energy, and resources. But with these parenting hacks, you can survive and even thrive in your working-parent-superhero-veterinary role! Remember to take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Happy parenting!

So, go ahead and try out these hacks and let us know how they work for you. And if you have any more helpful tips, share them in the comments below. Cheers to making parenting a little bit easier! #parentinghacks #mealdelivery #grocerydelivery #babysitting #busyparenting


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