Presidential Trivia: #PresidentialHacks

By Alyssa Rapp
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James Polk

One of my favorite hacks is “Put your own oxygen mask on first.” [Life Hack #69]. We all must make time for self-care.  We need to take these precious minutes, hours, and occasionally days, for ourselves to be our best selves for our kids, spouse, colleagues, etc. I thought it might be fun to visit how “leaders of the free world” find ways to put their own oxygen masks first vis-à-vis their extraordinary Presidential responsibilities.

  1. Naps
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John F. Kennedy

I could not call this section “Get Enough Sleep” because, for many of us, eight hours a night is not possible. However, who says that eight hours per night must be all at once? Even Presidents take naps. Kennedy was notorious for his 10–15-minute naps during the day. Coolidge has gone down in history as perhaps taking too many naps, but my point is made. If the men (and hopefully soon women!) with the nuclear codes can find time for a quick snooze, we can too!

  1. Cherish thy Network
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Bill Clinton

As an almost-President once said, “It takes a village.” The club of living U.S. Presidents and former Presidents might be one of the most exclusive on the planet. Sitting Presidents have heavily relied upon the advice of their predecessors for guidance about a particular situation (a lot more often than we hear in the news). The deep friendship that developed between once rivals Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush was nothing new; examples of this camaraderie date as far back as the days of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson penning dozens of letters to one another discussing all matters of state and life. As any parent can tell you, the best parenting advice often comes from another parent. Even if you find yourself at the helm of an organization or enterprise, Presidential colleagues remind me to reach out to our own for guidance and perspective.

  1. Get Yourself a Dog!
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FDR and Fala

It was often pointed out that President Trump did not have a dog. However, he was not the first U.S. President not to have a dog, but he did hold the distinction along with President Polk as the only U.S. President not to have had any pets. Beyond, Trump and Polk, the wide range of Presidential pets are truly fascinating. Andrew Johnson fed mice he found in the White House as “pets”; George Washington had a parrot; William Henry Harrison had a goat (and was not the last president to have one); Benjamin Harrison had opossums and alligators (YIKES). Lizards, hens, and snakes have all been Presidential pets and undoubtedly provided moments of calm and sanity for the leaders who turned to them for comfort. If Hal or I ever became President, “Yoda”, our beloved Bernedoodle, would be proud to know he would be, in theory, the fourth poodle to live in the White House!

 

  1. Take Vacations!
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Air Force One in transit

Presidents are humans too and need time off like the rest of us.  A vacation does not have to mean 10 days in Paris, off the grid; rest and reprieve come in all forms. It is hard to imagine Joe Biden ever getting 24-hours uninterrupted to himself, but “vacation” could be anything from a night at home with no kids, an extended weekend at a nearby lake, or a “work-from-home week” where “home” is another city. George W. Bush would take a month every summer to “work-from-home” at his Texas ranch where he would perform his Presidential duties and chainsaw firewood all in the same locale. Even if your favorite destination is not the Kennedy Compound or a Mar-A-Lago, remember to take time to recharge. Particularly in this not-yet-post-pandemic-era. Rest and renewal, even in short spurts, are more crucial than ever.

Have a favorite piece of Presidential trivia? Share it here!