How Michelle Obama Has Been Spending Her Time While Social Distancing in D.C. During Coronavirus
Former First Lady Michelle Obama isn't wasting time — or too much, anyway — while social distancing with her husband and children during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re just trying to just keep a routine going," she told friend Ellen DeGeneres during a March phone call the talk show host posted on social media. "But," she said, "we also got a little Netflix and chilling happening."
While remaining at the Washington, D.C., home she shares with former President Barack Obama, 58 — with daughters Malia, 21, and 18-year-old Sasha joining them after classes moved online — Mrs. Obama, 56, has kept busy with a number of projects and initiatives.
As she told DeGeneres, "We’re just trying to structure our days."
"Everybody’s home," she said in March. "The girls are back because colleges are now online. So they’re off in their respective rooms doing their online classes and I think Barack is — I don’t know where he is. He was on the phone on a conference call. I just got finished with a conference call.”
(For his part, according to audio of a call obtained by Yahoo News, President Obama recently told former members of his administration that his isolation had its ups and downs: Not having sports was "driving me nuts," he said, but at least his girls "are stuck having dinner with me.")
Here's what the former first lady has been up to while quarantining:
Weekly Kids’ Read-Alongs
In April, Mrs. Obama announced that she would be "giving families a much needed break" amid homeschooling and stay-at-home orders with a free weekly read-along session called Mondays with Michelle Obama, in partnership with PBS Kids and Penguin Random House. (The readings are available on PBS Kids Facebook and You Tube.)
"I'm thrilled to share some of my favorite children's books and give kids an opportunity to practice their reading," she wrote on Instagram.
According to Penguin Random House, the weekly read-alongs will continue through the end of May.
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Partnered with Laura Bush to Thank Essential Workers
Also in April, Mrs. Obama partnered with fellow former First Lady Laura Bush to share a message of solidarity during the two-hour Global Citizen One World: Together At Home televised event.
“Michelle and I are thrilled to join you tonight in your homes for this special program,” Bush said while appearing from the breezeway sitting room of her and husband George’s Prairie Chapel ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Mrs. Obama thanked essential workers who are "getting up every day and risking their lives on our behalf — working in hospitals, grocery stores, transit systems, and those providing so many other critical services."
She similarly recorded a message for healthcare workers that was being shared with hospital workers in cities around the country, including New York City, Chicago and D.C.
Continues to Advocate for Voting Rights and Registration
On April 13, the Becoming author announced a new initiative with her organization When We All Vote — which she started in 2018 with Tom Hanks, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and others: The group was backing legislation that would increase vote-by-mail options amid the pandemic, which has stirred many concerns about the safety of in-person voting before there are treatments for the contagious illness.
It was the first time the voting-rights organization endorsed federal legislation.
“We know that barriers to voting existed before this crisis, especially for young people and communities of color,” she said in a statement at the time, according to The Guardian. “Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment — and they’re long overdue.”
“There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life,” she added.
Mrs. Obama also held #CouchParty Instagram Live sessions with the organization, encouraging eligible voters to register to vote and to sign When We All Vote’s pledge to join the fight for safe and fair elections. Hanks and Wilson joined her during one such event.
Has Shared Several Uplifting Messages — Even One with Her Mom
In an April Instagram post, along with a portrait of her and mom Marian Robinson together, Mrs. Obama wrote a message to the public about safe ways to support one another during the pandemic.
"After several weeks of physical distancing, it’s so important that we continue to regularly check in with the people we care about—our friends, neighbors, grandparents, and anyone we know who might be sheltering in place on their own right now," she wrote. "A simple text or quick call can go a long way in letting someone know they aren’t in this alone."
Mrs. Obama explained that the benefits of reaching out to friends and loved ones amid this time could go both ways.
"For me, the simple act of reaching out to my loved ones, especially to my Mom, never fails to lift my spirits," she wrote. "If you’re not sure how to start,@ChicagosMayor Lori Lightfoot has been sharing some helpful tips for making well-being calls part of your routine. Little things like scheduling your call for the same time every week and making sure to have conversations about the latest safety guidance can help keep all of us healthy and connected. We're all in this together—and we’ll get through it together too. 💪🏾#StayAtHome."
She also shared a message of gratitude on Easter, saying that times like these certainly remind someone of all the things they may take for granted.
"This year, I’ve been feeling a newfound sense of gratitude for all the little moments I used to take for granted," she wrote. "And I know so many of you are also trying your best to make new memories, like attending church online or sharing Sunday dinner over video chat with your relatives."
In March, while acknowledging the virus' many changes to daily life "have been scary and difficult for many of us," she shared a list of ways people can get involved amid the pandemic to help those in need while safely social distancing.
As graduation season approaches — of particular importance, given that her post-White House career has focused on educational access — the former first lady announced she and her husband would be giving remote commencement speeches for the class of 2020.
"Some of you will be the first in your families to graduate from high school or college, making this occasion all the more special," she wrote on Instagram last week. "And I know that none of you imagined you would be closing this chapter of your life through a computer or phone screen. But I still want to make sure you still get the celebration you deserve."
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