Malia and Sasha can only watch on weekends, leaving time to hone their Taboo skills

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall and Tim Nudd
Updated January 12, 2010 01:00 PM
Credit: Annie Leibovitz/Official White House Photo

Like any family, the Obamas have their TV rules. The kids get to watch only on weekends. The president and first lady watch a lot of sports. And no one at all watches Jersey Shore.

President and Mrs. Obama reveal to PEOPLE in a new interview that the girls – Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8 – are limited to Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

“They can only watch the kid-TV channels for the most part, because you just never know,” says Mrs. Obama. The president, however, does make an exception: “Unless they want to watch football with me, which they’re always welcome. But somehow they haven’t been drawn to that yet.”

Also, the girls aren’t allowed to watch at all during the week. “We’re pretty strict about that,” says the president.
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The president tends to soak up the sports programming, and typically tunes the channel to ESPN’s SportsCenter in the mornings when he and Mrs. Obama work out together.

“I tend to be much more informed about sports than I’d like,” Mrs. Obama says, laughing. “No, that’s not true,” the president says. “Michelle actually knows her sports, which is important in our marriage.”

No ‘Jersey Shore’

One show that’s not on the menu? MTV’s Jersey Shore. “I’ve heard about it,” says Mrs. Obama. “Not seen it.”

With their TV intake limited, Malia and Sasha have been honing other skills. “We found over the [Christmas] break that they are both very good Taboo players,” says Mrs. Obama. In the game, one partner tries to prompt the other to guess a word, without using the word itself or any of five related words on the card.

“We vacation with a bunch of different families, and there were like 13 kids,” says Mrs. Obama. “So, the kids all played, and we let them pass if they didn’t know what the word was. Kids would just file through it, but Malia and Sasha were focused.”

“Very focused,” says the president. “They’re very quick.”

Pie Threat

Having found a happy medium with their entertainment, the president and first lady can now focus on reining in a rogue member of staff – the pastry chef, whom the president says poses a threat to his waistline.

“If you even hint that banana cream pie is one of your favorites,” says the president. “Got to resist.”