I distinctly remember the feeling I had walking out of my office for the last time as my I embarked on maternity leave. After working many nights until well after the sun went down, I felt a sense of euphoria knowing the next few months would be dedicated to just being home with my new little human. But, while some of my coworkers understood implicitly not to bother me on maternity leave, others continued to lob email grenades my way. If you anticipate the same, here are 10 clever maternity leave out-of-office messages to let your colleagues know, loud and clear, that you're occupied with way, way more more important matters.
Sure, you can opt for the standard, "I will be out of the office on maternity leave starting [XX] and returning [XX]," but where's the fun in that? Now's the time to showcase some sass, to demonstrate your infinite wit and intellect, maybe even bring some much-needed attention to parental leave policies. Now is the time to tell your officemates and clients that, for this brief moment in time, you're no longer available to them 24/7 —that total access is reserved for your newborn alone!
Need a little inspiration for your OOO? Here are 10 seriously ingenious out-of-office messages to use when you head out on maternity leave.
1. Your Email Has Been Deleted
We've all read the diligent OOO message that says, "I'm out of the office right now but I will return your email as soon as I can."
But, let's be real, when you're knee-deep in diapers and buried in bottles, you don't give a fig about returning that email, now or in three months! That's why writing, "I'm on maternity leave so your email has been deleted," is the perfect, sassy substitute.
If you don't feel like going that far, you can try a tamer, but no less hilarious version, like this one.
2. I Just Birthed a Human Being
If your colleagues just don't seem to get that a maternity leave OOO means "do not disturb," then it's time to meet fire with fire. Try whipping out a message like this: "I'm out of the office because I just birthed a human being. What did you do today?"
3. Use Gifs
When you're trying to capture your feelings on maternity leave but just can't find the words, use a gif — in this case, David Bowie from Labyrinth.
Gifs can convey everything you want to in a harmless, humorous way (HR will be too busy laughing to object!). I also am very partial to this one. You see where I'm going with this...
4. My Most Exciting Role So Far
If you're more sugar than spice, then consider using a super sweet maternity leave OOO message like, "I'm out of the office, taking on the most exciting role so far: being a mom."
The best part? It's totally, totally true.
5. I'm Taking Some Time to Enjoy These Toes
If you're little one arrives ahead of schedule, you can quickly update your out-of-office reply with a precious photo and a sweet note like this one, "I'm out of the office taking time to enjoy these perfect little toes. I will return from maternity leave on [XX] date and will return your message at that time."
6. Let's Talk Parental Leave Policies
Erin Grau of The New York Times used her OOO reply to thank her employer for their generous parental leave policy and also to explain why forward-thinking policies are so important.
She presents a powerful, succinct business case for why paid family leave makes sense, and all I can say is, "Preach, girl. Preach!"
7. Home Bonding with My Baby
This maternity leave OOO message sagely leverages the OOO auto-reply message to try to bring about positive change.
If you too want to use your maternity leave out-of-office message to stand up for what you believe in, try something like this, "I'm lucky to be out of the office, home bonding with my baby, as all parents should have the choice to."
Don't forget to include a link as a P.S. that reflects your views.
8. Keep Calm. I'm On Maternity Leave.
If you want to keep your out-of-office message simple, consider saying it all with one of the most popular graphics of all time, tweaked of course to reflect your maternity status.
"Keep Calm. I'm on Maternity Leave. I will be returning to the office on [XX]".
9. Closed for Maternity Leave
For those who provide services or are running your own business, your out-of-office message might take the form of a Facebook post. To give your customers a heads-up of your whereabouts for the next few months, consider a cute graphic accompanied by some boundary-setting text like this:
"During my leave, I will be taking the time to enjoy my growing family and will not be answering calls, messages, emails, texts, etc. Thank you."
10. On Leave Until....
Never underestimate the power of a stork graphic to melt the hearts of even the most stern professionals. Add in a note about when you'll return to the office, and your out-of-office message will hit all the right notes.
No matter what you end up using as your maternity leave OOO message, just remember that you have the right to ignore any and all incoming messages that land in your inbox. Better yet, turn off your work device and don't log on again until your day back!
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.