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The First Lady On Finding Work-Life Balance

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This afternoon First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, an all-day event for discussing solutions that will allow parents to meet the demands of both their jobs and their families. Hosted by the White House Council for Women and Girls, the forum's five breakout sessions--which are streaming live at www.whitehouse.gov/live--are being attended by administration officials, policy experts, workers, and business and labor leaders. "It's an issue that many folks have struggled with for so many years," Mrs. Obama said in the summit's opening session, "And one that we as a society just haven't really figured out yet." While acknowledging the amazing resources at her disposal as First Lady, she evoked her life before the White House. "I was a working mother doing the best to juggle the demands of my job with the needs of my family, with a husband who has crazy ideas," she said, smiling. "While I did the best that I could at work and at home, I felt like I wasn't keeping up with either one of them enough." She also explained that she was lucky to have understanding bosses and accommodating jobs. With her last pre-Washington job as a hospital executive, she was on maternity leave for Sasha when she got a call about the position. She was unable, however, to find a babysitter for the interview. "I packed up that little infant, and I put her in the stroller, and I brought her with me," she recalled. "And I prayed that her presence wouldn't be an automatic disqualifier. It was fortunate for me that, number one, she slept through the entire interview, and I got the job." But not all workers are fortunate enough to work in such understanding environments, and struggle to deal with childcare, aging parents and other family needs. "Here in the federal government we're trying to follow your lead," Mrs. Obama said to her audience of experts and business leaders. "Putting our money where our mouth is to adopt more of those best practices, from expanding telework access, to providing emergency childcare and more affordable daycare." The Obama Administration, for example, supports the Healthy Families Act, which would let all working Americans earn up to seven days of paid sick leave to care for themselves and their families (right now about 50 percent of the U.S. workforce does not get paid sick leave). President Obama will give remarks at the summit's closing session at 4:15, which you can watch live at www.whitehouse.gov/live. For more of Cynthia Gordy's Obama Watch click here. Read More:
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Filed Under: First Lady Diary
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