Matt Kaufman knows what it's like to juggle business meetings with family commitments. That's why the 51-year-old dad is making a call to companies to be especially understanding with their employees during back-to-school season.
Earlier this month, the father of Olivia, 15, and Spencer, 12, posted an open letter on LinkedIn reminding people to be kind to one another during the transition from summer to school, which can be especially hard on working parents.
"I've walked out of meetings because I realized I have to be at my son’s football practice,” Kaufman, who is vice president of an executive search firm in Florida, told TODAY Parents. “My kids will text 'I left my homework in the kitchen,’ and I have to drop everything to go and get it. Those kinds of things have happened countless times.”
“Another school year coming at us like a freight train. New challenges for our kids from an academic, social, physical and emotional level,” Kaufman began. “For us, the parents, this translates to that perpetual feeling of being stretched to our absolute limit. Our careers are in full swing and those are the sweet spot years for development, advancement and compensation.”
Kaufman went on to note there is a “ridiculous amount of pressure to be redlining all day long” and then help with math homework.
“For the next 30 days keep in mind the circus that is going on in everyone’s household,” Kaufman wrote. “If someone is a few minutes late on a conference call, forgets to cc you on an email or that it was their turn to bring donuts, go easy on them. Have some rachmones. It’s an old Yiddish term. Basically means pity or compassion.”
It was a message many needed to hear. As one person responded on LinkedIn: "It’s amazing to me how effortlessly I adapt to change at work yet adapting to changes at home, even ones I’m used to, are a struggle."
Kaufman is glad his message is resonating.
"I try to always be empathetic as opposed to sympathetic because I’m living it too," he told TODAY Parents. "I know exactly what they’re dealing with."