02 Apr Olympic Mom: Summer Sanders on Sleep, Marriage and Magic

Each time I have worked with Olympic athlete, Summer Sanders, I have been inspired by her life as a former gold medalist turned TV personality and mother. In this interview, she shared with me an unusually candid look into how she manages her life as a working mom.

You and your husband both work. How do you manage it together?

It took a while to find our dual career groove, but I have to say we really focus on Team. Erik and I stopped keeping score a long time ago because it never leads anywhere positive.  When we get overwhelmed we try to refocus on family happiness as our goal.

How do you cope with mommy guilt?

I used to have really bad mommy guilt.  I would cry and my heart would actually hurt. Last winter, I would tear up when I saw a pillow pet in the airport when I was traveling for work.  Now I don’t feel the pangs of guilt as much and the kids have a better understanding of my work.  It helps big time that my husband is so present at home when I am gone.  It allows me to focus on work and exhale a bit.

What makes your week run smoothly?

My slow cooker! Honestly, if I can plan out a few meals ahead of time, I feel much more organized.  We also talk about our upcoming week on Sunday night.  I have to see schedules written down so I have a dry erase board in the kitchen.  It is amazing how much I forget these days and the kids’ schedules are only getting busier!

If you didn’t work you would ________________.

Go crazy! I love my job and if I didn’t work, I would be itching to do something.

How do you nurture your marriage?

We try to live by the secret of sevens.  A friend, who has been married for over 40 years, told us about this magic.  Make and keep a date every seven days, take a night away alone, for yourself, every seven weeks, and schedule an adult only vacation every seven months.  We are more like the 11s, but we definitely plan time with just us and I don’t feel guilty. It is important for our family happiness.

What about sleep?

I never get enough sleep, even when I travel.  I wake up in the middle of the night either with the help of my kids or because my mind is going.  I wish I got eight hours a night, but it is more like an interrupted six or seven.  The secret is to go to sleep well before midnight. The more sleep you get in before the clock turns midnight, the more rested you feel no matter what time your alarm goes off.

Do you have other working moms you lean on for support?

My best friend Heidi is a real estate lawyer and she has two kids.  She stopped working a year and a half ago to spend more time with her kids and is now jumping back in.  She is a force!  We are all just hanging on by a thread at times, and she is my rock. I find that I need my girlfriends now more than I ever have in my life.


Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author, media personality and speaker, passionate about helping working moms to design a successful and happy lifestyle. Connect with her at samantha@samanthaettus.com or @samanthaettus.

To read this article on Forbes, please click here.

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author & corporate speaker. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction will be released in September.