From a Washington Post article I read on Father’s Day about President Obama’s remarkable commitment to his family:
Soon after being inaugurated, Obama established what New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor has called “an unusual rule for a president.” As he informed all his aides, he vowed to have dinner with his family five nights a week. That left just two nights a week for out-of-town fundraisers or dinners with fellow politicians.
At 6:30, Obama and his wife sit down with the girls for a family dinner without any outsiders — not even Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, who typically retreats to her own “home” on the third floor of the White House.
The evening meal, observed Obama’s former body-man Reggie Love, was treated “like a meeting in the Situation Room. There’s a hard stop before that dinner.” While aides sometimes call him back to work at 8:30 or 9, they rarely dare to go upstairs to bother him during the sacred dinner hour.
On most days, Obama also eats breakfast with his daughters. And as part of his commitment to his girls, Obama has been reluctant to visit Camp David, since various school activities typically require the youngsters to be in Washington.
Obama is extremely proud of his résumé as a parent. He boasts of having read aloud with Malia all seven volumes of the Harry Potter series; in his first fall in office, he also managed to read all of Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” to Sasha. But performing as a head of household did not come easily to him. As this supremely self-confident man acknowledged in 2006, “It is in my capacities as a husband and a father that I entertain the most doubt.”
Even in his unimaginably demanding role as President of the United States, Obama created a system for prioritizing what is most important to him—his family.
If we know that quality relationships are the key to a happy life (and they are), why shouldn’t we all build systems, habits, and routines that prioritize our connection with family and friends?
Whether it’s nightly dinner with your kids, a standing date night with your spouse, or regular meetings with your closest friends, build barriers around what may be the most significant commitment of your attention, the time you devote to the relationships that matter most.
You are not running a country. If Obama can do it, you can, too.