Vet-Kid Balance: Being a Veterinarian and a Parent

Ross Zimmerman
May 30, 2023

There is no change more seismic in a person’s life than becoming a parent. When that first child is born, your capacity for love expands tenfold—no, more. Way more. A whole new chamber of your heart opens up, reserved solely for loving this one tiny little being. Suddenly, this child is your everything, and your life is changed forever, every priority shifted. 

For veterinarians already contending with long hours, on-call, and potentially weekend work, becoming a parent means your time is now somehow even more invaluable than ever before. But with only so many hours in the day, how can you carve out time to be both a veterinarian and a mom or dad?  

Balancing career and family

It’s no surprise one of the leading causes of stress amongst veterinarians is balancing work and family, according to a 2020 NAVC survey. With your dual roles as vet and parent battling for a finite number of hours in the week, difficult decisions will inevitably have to be made. This is probably why, in a DVM 360 survey, 87% of vets said their profession interfered with their duties as a parent, and 75% reported that their duties as a parent interfered with their professional duties.

So how do we, as vets and parents, achieve the ultimate work-life balance: providing quality care for our clients and patients while also being there for our partners and children? 

Finding work-life balance in relief work

One solution, veterinary relief work, puts you in the driver’s seat instead of on the negotiating end of having to establish boundaries, which can be difficult for natural caregivers. As a full-time veterinarian, you’re beholden to clinic management and on-call hours; your time isn’t fully your own and nothing is guaranteed. As a relief veterinarian, on the other hand, you literally pick the shifts you work, making you the author of your own schedule. This increased freedom empowers you to create the exact work-life balance that works for you. Don’t want to work weekends? Done! Feeling extra tired and over working late nights? Gone, now you can be around for bedtime and get some sweet sweet sleep.

With relief work, you can fine-tune your hours to craft the perfect cocktail of time spent with family, time spent providing care, and money earned. Because, let’s be honest, kids are expensive. Need more money? Simply pick up extra shifts. And vice versa: when money is abundant, spend more time with your kids! Shifts are confirmed individually so you can adjust on a day-to-day basis. Now, you’re in control; what you do with that power is up to you.

Childcare as a veterinarian mom or dad

With relief work, you can kiss the many curveballs of childcare goodbye. Seriously. You’ll be able to make your schedule work for you. Maybe you’re having difficulties finding childcare coverage, whether you’re stuck on a daycare wait list for all eternity or grandma and grandpa can’t pick up the slack today. Or maybe your kids are in school and you want to be there when they get home to put dinner on the table. Whatever your need may be, the solution is simply selecting your relief shifts to accommodate.

What if it’s a money issue and you can only afford childcare part time? Same solution, work the shifts you need to pay your bills and take time off when you need to serve as the primary caregiver. As a relief veterinarian, you can work part-time, full-time, or anything in between! You’re the boss. 

With the Roo Mobile App, all of this flexibility is just a couple clicks away. You can see your whole schedule in the calendar view, making it easy to plan ahead and plan around. Roo keeps all your relief employment info organized in one place, making it incredibly easy so you can focus on what’s really important.   

Time off? No problem

As a relief vet, you can take time off whenever you want. Need to prioritize your sick kid over sick pets today? That’s okay. No need to rely on sick days or feel guilt over leaving your coworkers or clinic hanging. And by picking up relief shifts, you could be returning the favor for another veterinarian mom or dad who had to stay home to care for a sick child. 

Problems with childcare? Nanny can’t make it? Daycare closed for a holiday? Crisis averted. With relief work you have the flexibility to accommodate anything life throws your way. 

Parental leave

Preparing to have your first baby but worried about what this will mean for your career or your practice? Almost 60% of vets reported taking eight weeks of time off or less when their most recent child was born according to this survey by DVM360. That’s a two month old child! They can barely even hold their head up. Plus, it’s very likely that child is still breastfeeding if that’s the route you’ve chosen. 14% of vets reported taking no time off at all when their child was born. How is that even possible?!  

As a relief veterinarian, your parental leave is fully on your terms, so you can take off as long as you need to be a full-time mom or dad. Roo has no penalties for taking time off, and there’s no minimum shift requirement needed to qualify. You’re free to take time off as long as you want and return to work when you and your child are ready. When’s that you ask? Only you will know, and there’s no rush to decide. Roo will be just a few screen taps away whenever you’re ready to come back.  

Finally, when you decide to return to work, you can wean yourself back into veterinary practice. Start off part-time and ease back into the swing of things if you like while figuring out how to best balance your career and childcare.

Family vacations & holidays

Holidays like Christmas and Spring Break are great times to get away with the family together, but for a lot of full-time vets, this could feel out of reach. However, with relief work, it’s your choice when and how long you want to take time off. And remember, Roo will never penalize you for taking time off! Now, you can plan vacations by matching your partner’s time off or your children’s school schedules with ease. 

Want to go on an extended vacation? With Roo, you can work from the road. Take the app with you, and pick up a shift anywhere you’re licensed where Roo has coverage. The ability to become a traveling relief veterinarian is one of the many perks of relief work. You not only choose when you work, but where you work as well. Or don’t work and just enjoy yourself, it’s up to you.


Becoming a relief veterinarian is only one solution; there are many other answers to this common challenge that affects a lot of vets. That’s why great organizations such as DVMoms exist. DVMoms is an excellent support group that started on Facebook and grew into a welcoming community providing many great resources, networking events, and more, all geared towards helping veterinarian moms and dads. 

As a company with a majority women leadership team, including our co-founder and CEO, we here at Roo are big fans. We recently attended the DVMoms-hosted “Veterinary Encouragement CE by the Sea” conference to show our support. 

Roo booth at the DVMoms CE Event, "Veterinary Encouragement CE by the Sea"

Being a veterinarian mom or dad can be challenging, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to balancing your career and responsibilities as a parent. Making the transition to relief work, maybe just for a little bit, is a great option because it makes you the author of your own solution. That additional command over your life can be impactful, especially early in your child’s life.

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