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Melody Chiu and Jen Juneau
May 04, 2017 04:55 PM

Between a flourishing musical career, coaching stint on The Voice and parenting two kids, Alicia Keys is a busy woman. But the trick to managing it all, she says, is to accept that it’s going to be hard no matter what.

“The biggest challenge recently is how to balance all the travel,” the singer, 36, tells PEOPLE for this week’s issue of juggling a career and being a mom to sons Genesis Ali, 2, and Egypt Daoud, 6½. “It’s a lot of time away, and I want to make sure they have consistency and are not being dragged from here to there all the time.”

She adds, “Especially now that Egypt is in school, it’s different than before. Sometimes one can be with me and one can’t, and I feel badly about being away.”

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“I am a very present mom, and you know us moms want to do it all,” continues the singer and activist. “But we have to be good to ourselves too. We do the best we can and make the best choices we can.”

A pro to having to be such a serious multi-tasker when it comes to parenting and her career? Instilling quite the work ethic in her boys, whom she shares with husband Swizz Beatz, 38.

“I trust myself, and I’m glad [Genesis and Egypt] get to see me working hard and going after my dreams so they know what it takes to go after theirs,” she explains.

Keys has a lot of achievements to count. Aside from the success of her latest album Here, she recently received the Amnesty International Award and is set to perform June 3 at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

But the rewards that pay off the most for the entertainer are the ones she gets at home. “My most recent success is continuing to bring the family closer,” she says. “To help us all learn how to express ourselves, our emotions and what we are going through as a family.”

“I think a lot of times, we’re not taught how to express ourselves well, especially boys, and I really love how we’ve been taking the time to listen to and learn from each other.”

For more from Alicia Keys, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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