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September 13, 2016 02:35 PM

There comes a time in most people’s lives when they must say goodbye to their childhood home. For Malia and Sasha Obama, that home is the White House – and that time is fast approaching.

During a co-hosting appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about what her daughters will miss most about life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“It’s really the people,” Obama said. “Think about it: The girls have grown up in the White House. I mean, the staff that’s there – we see them every day. These are people who have helped us raise our kids. They’ve loved us. They’ve taken care of us. The minute we leave, that’s it.”

“I’m sure the girls will have a tough time,” said Obama, 52, thinking ahead to the limitations of returning as a tourist or even an invited guest. “They think they’re ready, but when you’ve grown up in a place … I mean, imagine: They won’t be able to knock on a door and say, ‘Can I see my room?’ That’s not gonna happen.”

From left to right: Sasha, Michelle, Barack and Malia Obama on election night in 2008
M. Spencer Green/AP

The first lady added that she and her husband, President Barack Obama, are encouraging their daughters to cherish their final months in the White House.

The Obama family with dogs Sunny and Bo at the White House on Easter Sunday, April 6, 2015
Courtesy White House

“We’re trying to have them step back and really appreciate the walk on the South Lawn, sitting on the Truman Balcony. I mean, we just want to keep creating some memories for them as well.”

After the president leaves office in January, he and his family will remain in Washington, D.C., where 15-year-old Sasha will finish out high school. Malia, 18, will take a gap year before heading to Harvard in Fall 2017.

“I’m proud of them they’ve really managed this so well,” the first lady said. “I mean, I just love them to death and the big thing I’ve always worried about was making sure that they got out of this whole. I’m just proud that they are poised, smart, intelligent young women.”

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