It is fair to say that Michelle Obama had a pretty packed schedule while in the White House, since being First Lady is a life-consuming, (unpaid) full-time job. Ironically, those words are also commonly used to describe the job that is parenting. With two girls, a husband and an entire country to care for, it is hard to find balance between work and family, but Michelle’s trick was surprisingly simple.
During her visit to Vancouver this week, Michelle said that the first thing she scheduled after becoming the First Lady were her daughters’ important school events, such as plays, reported Burnaby Now. By doing this ahead of time with their teachers (and Barack by her side), she could avoid a conflict when setting up a meeting, trip or conference.
The former First Lady scheduled her personal life too, including time for Barack, her girlfriends, her daughters and even time for walks—and did all this before adding work into the equation. “You have to schedule the balance,” she said.
For many of us, Michelle's strategy is contradictory to what we’ve been doing for so long. We prioritize our work commitments, meetings and deadlines, but by doing that it is easy to let our job take over our life. “If we let life go, the first thing that fills it up is work. The job takes over,” Michelle said. And that's something we can all relate to—even if we are not married to the president.
Michelle said that she and Barack found out how consuming work can be even before the Obama administration. Since their days in Chicago, she's realized that if someone wanted to schedule a meeting for a time that you are dedicating to your family, you can just say, “that doesn’t work for me,” and people actually respect that. We do it all the time for work-related appointments, so we might as well try it on our personal life.
She also talked about how important it is to prioritize time with your children and emphasized that you are your kids’ “person.” Someone else can always attend that conference or give that speech, but not just anyone can be your child’s go-to person. Most working women can’t skip meetings and conferences whenever, but by having a schedule, it's possible to adjust.
Her relationships with other women also proved valuable. During the eight years of her husband’s presidency, she relied on her mom, who moved into the White House with them. And she also shared that she couldn’t have accomplished much without the support of her group of girlfriends.
By scheduling her personal life, she found an easy way to maintain balance. Now, excuse us while we take our planners out and try to schedule our whole lives.
The article originally appeared on Working Mother.