Michelle Obama explains how she made time for date nights and workouts as first lady -- and why President Obama never missed a parent-teacher conference

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesFormer President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in the unveiling of their official portraits during a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama had a busy schedule during her years in the White House.
  • To make sure her personal life didn’t get the short end of the stick, Obama would plan out her year, adding date nights, vacations and even workouts, before signing on to any meetings or events.
  • “Oftentimes we don’t do that as professionals,” Obama said. “We schedule work before we schedule us.”

The responsibilities of any public figure can be demanding.

That’s especially the case for the first lady of the United States, who has to balance her own agenda, the commitments she has as spouse of the president, and a personal life.

Former first lady Michelle Obama, speaking at Klick Health’s Muse event in New York, said that was especially challenging after uprooting her family while her children were young to move to the White House.

“What we learned we had to do is start prioritising us alongside – and often before – the work,” Obama said.

That required a concerted effort to map out the year, adding family events, vacations, even workouts before setting up meetings.

“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,” she said. “We put potlucks in there, we put date nights in there, I put my workouts, we put our vacations on the calendar first.”

Any time remaining could be spent doing work. It’s a different approach than many take, with dinners and workouts scheduled on days when there aren’t work commitments.

“Oftentimes we don’t do that as professionals. We schedule work before we schedule us,” Obama said. But it doesn’t have to be that way, 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.”

That planning kept her and President Barack Obama from missing out on family time or important events in their daughters’ lives.

“We always scheduled family dinners. He was always home in time to sit down for that family dinner,” Obama said. “We had our regular vacations and Barack never missed a parent-teacher conference.”

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