Now more than ever, parents deserve grace—from themselves, from their communities and from their workplaces. Because pandemic parenting is taking parental burnout to a whole new level. So it's no wonder that one working mom's spin on the classic "Out of Office" message is going viral on LinkedIn.
Mary Beth Ferrante, a working partner at management consulting firm WRK/260, was inspired to write the viral post due to the "craziness that is #pandemic parenting." And if you're a working parent trying to stay afloat during these unprecedented times, then her post, shared last week, is a must-read.
Get ready to feel seen and understood.
"Hi, thank you in advance for your patience," the message begins. "The pandemic continues to disrupt our childcare and schools. My husband and I are back to trading off chunks of time where each of us can focus on work while the other one focuses on care (which has included taking them for multiple tests, getting aftercare canceled, and picking them up early due to runny noses and possible exposures AND it's only been 3 working days so far in 2022). Therefore my response to your email may take some additional time."
"If you are juggling disruptions in your own care/school/health, please be kind to yourself!" the message continues. "Prioritize what is most important personally and professionally. Ask for support, deadline extensions, and empathy. Try even setting up your own 'out of office' to remind others that we are still in fact working during a pandemic and juggling care and work is already hard enough during the best of times.
This message is important not just because the reminder itself is important, but because there shouldn't be an expectation that we should normalize things as they currently stand. We are in the middle of a global health crisis that has impacted every nook and cranny of society—with no end in sight. Gently asking for a little patience from colleagues and employers while civilization is on the brink of collapse is, uh, a totally valid thing to do.
Ferrante says that after the holidays, her full-time childcare options became severely impacted by Covid. Cases in her area began to surge, and she was notified that fellow students and friends at her daughter's preschool began to test positive.
"And so began another text storm of what do we do, who should get tested, when, who else do we need to notify, etc.," Ferrante tells Motherly. "I sat back down at my computer, looked at my inbox and knew that the rest of the day was going to be a mess and likely the rest of the week. I quickly crafted the out-of-office message and then turned my attention to figuring out our care/work plan with my husband."
After about an hour, Ferrante received a grateful message from a fellow working mom who read her out-of-office message.
"Therefore I thought it might be something others would want to utilize as well so I posted to Linked In!" she explained.
Ferrante isn't surprised by the positive reaction her LinkedIn post has received because after nearly two years of pandemic parenting, we're all feeling frustrated at the lack of functional options and exhausted from decision-making.
"The reaction really just shows how overwhelmed we are all feeling," she says. "For caregivers and working parents, the care disruptions seem endless. At the beginning of the pandemic, it felt like there was some empathy and understanding directed towards working parents and caregivers but over the course of the last two years, that empathy seems to be waning. This was my plea to bring that empathy back and to remind other working caregivers and parents that they need to also give themselves the permission to reset expectations and give themselves some grace."
Giving ourselves grace is more important than ever—and it can take different forms. Here are a few of our favorite products to help mamas steal little moments of self-care.