It’s no secret that a demanding career can put a strain on your relationship with loved ones, be it family members or a partner. When you’re President of the United States, that strain is even greater. Yet Michelle and Barack Obama managed to maintain a healthy, loving relationship with each other and their children over their eight years in the White House. So how did they do it?
Speaking at Klick Health’s Muse event in New York yesterday, former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed the secret to her and Barack’s successful relationship and family. “What we learned we had to do is start prioritising us alongside – and often before – the work,” she said, explaining that they would map out everything from family vacations, events and even workouts before planning business meetings and functions. “Proactively, starting every year before I booked anything, agreed to any meetings or conferences, I sat down with my assistant and we looked at our lives first,” Business Insider Australia reports. “We put potlucks in there, we put date nights in there, I put my workouts, we put our vacations on the calendar first.”
Michelle said moving her two young daughters to the White House was challenging as parents, with the girls being just 7 and 10 when they left Chicago. This compelled the Obamas to prioritise their family and make sure they didn’t miss school ceremonies, parent-teacher meetings and other important events. “Oftentimes we don’t do that as professionals. We schedule work before we schedule us,” she said. “The truth is even when you schedule your family, there’s still plenty of time for work. But we don’t plan like that.” In 2012 at the Democratic National Committee, Michelle summed things up: “At the end of the day, my most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief.'”
She added that despite being leader of the country, Barack was always there for his daughters. “We always scheduled family dinners. He was always home in time to sit down for that family dinner,” she explained. “We had our regular vacations and Barack never missed a parent-teacher conference.”
As for the couple’s relationship, maintaining regular date nights ensured the spark never died. Michelle and Barack were publicly affectionate during their time in the White House, both in person and on social media. Every year on their wedding anniversary and Michelle’s birthday, Barack posts on Twitter and Instagram to acknowledge his wife. Just last month, the former leader shared an image of the couple on Valentines Day with the caption: “Happy Valentines Day Michelle Obama. You make every day and every place better.”