Summer is coming to an end. If you're anything like me, this brings about mixed emotions. While I'm sad I won't have my kids home with me anymore, at the same time, I am breathing a sigh of relief knowing back to school means the return of routines and normalcy.

Many of us might feel a bit run down after a summer full of activities with our favorite kiddos, while juggling late nights and battling to keep them off electronics in between. After a long and busy summer, here are a few things that have worked for me to recharge my "mom battery" that might work for you, too.

1. Shoot for an earlier bedtime

As it begins getting dark earlier in the evening, we are given the natural opportunity to make this transition. Getting the kids to bed earlier gives you time to do something for yourself in the evening before you crash. Talk to your spouse without kid interruptions, read a book or watch a TV show that isn't animated. Having a little extra time at night to wind down does wonders to help us rejuvenate and be ready to happily face our favorite little people in the morning.

2. Watch baby videos of your children together

First of all, kids love seeing what they were like as babies. Plus, you get to use the videos you spent hours taking, transferred to your computer and backed up in multiple places. But mostly, I've noticed watching baby videos does two great things for me: First, it reminds me how my child was a sweet and adorable little baby (which never fails to leave me smiling). Second, it makes me remember how fast my child is growing up, and that I need to savor the moments because they go by so quickly.

3. Sneak a peek at your kids after they are asleep

A while back ago, my wise and spunky grandmother taught me a valuable lesson. (I was having a particularly trying day parenting my rambunctious young children.) She advised me to go back into my kid's rooms at night after they had fallen asleep and take a peek at them sleeping. She assured me this would make everything right again. And guess what? She was right! Just try it. Take a nice, prolonged look at your child sleeping, looking peaceful and angelic, and just see if it doesn't melt your heart a little bit.

4. Make some time for exercise, and make sure it's something you enjoy

I've always struggled with keeping up exercise routines, but I finally found a solution. It's not so much about the fitness side of it (although it's always nice to notice your waist trimming up and your muscles toned) as it is about de-stressing. There will probably be stages of motherhood where it is absolutely impossible to fit in exercise, let alone have the energy to take one extra step a day. But if you can manage it, exercise can be an amazing stress reliever and will actually leave you with more energy.

The key to exercise is finding something you enjoy. It doesn't have to be marathon training. If you can fit in just twenty minutes, 3-4 times a week you are doing great. I've found dance aerobics (fun) and yoga (relaxing and stress relieving) to be my personal favorites. Order some fitness DVDs online, and squeeze it in when you can.

5. Splurge for a night out, or even better, a weekend getaway

A night out sans kids can be the key to feeling part of the world again — just long enough to help us look forward to seeing our little people in the morning. Whether it's a night out with your spouse or friends, a little time away goes a long way. If you can manage to swing a weekend away, even better.

6. After your battery is recharged a little, take your kids on a short day activity by yourself

It's always fun to take the kids on an outing with another mom friend. You have someone to talk to, and the kids have other kids to entertain themselves with - it's a win-win. But every now and then, try taking your kids to the zoo, a museum, a dollar movie or the park by yourself. Surprisingly, without the distractions of conversations with other adults around, you'll find yourself enjoying your kids more than you might expect. Talk to them and notice their funny little observations; watch as they smile, laugh, and discover new things; take photos and just let yourself get caught up in the moment.

7. Keep a special little treat stash just for you

Hopefully you already have one of these. Keep a stash of goodies (that the kids don't know about), and every now and then give yourself five minutes of alone time to enjoy a little treat just for you. In fact, when you are done reading this article, go grab a bite of chocolate or a Diet Coke - whatever your treat of choice may be. You deserve it. If you don't have your own personal stash, then throw the kids in the car and run to the nearest gas station. And please, get a stash.

Being a mom is not an easy job, but I am convinced it's one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. Focus on the positive, try to incorporate any of the ideas above that might work for you, and carry on with what you're doing, because you are doing great.

What are some ways you've found that work to recharge your mom battery? Leave a comment and let us know. We could all use more ideas!

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