Since Sheryl Crow became a mom, her life has changed completely — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Adopting my boys — that’s just been the biggest everlasting event that has informed everything,” the singer, 55, says in the new issue of PEOPLE, “and really for the better.”
Now 11 years in remission, the nine-time Grammy winner says, “Being diagnosed with [breast] cancer was a showstopper, for sure. I think it dictated that I reevaluate my life and set up new guidelines for the way I want to live.”
One of those guidelines was a renewed focus on family. Crow adopted sons Levi, 6½, and Wyatt, 9½, in 2010 and 2007, respectively. And after she finished promoting her last album, 2013’s Feels Like Home, she had an epiphany.
“I didn’t want to spend any more nights away from home,” Crow says. “When you have kids, your priorities definitely change. I really felt consistency is the most important thing.”
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Indeed, the rocker settled back into mom mode at home in Nashville, where her days are built around school drop-offs and getting dinner on the table.
“I’m a super geeky mom,” says Crow. “We listen to the radio on the way to school, and I’m constantly bopping along to The Chainsmokers. The kids are like, ‘Mom, quit dancing!’ They think I’m the biggest goofball on the planet.”
Still, the star never lost her songwriting itch, so she got to work on her new album: Be Myself, out April 21.
“That luxury of being able to be creative or inspired at whatever hour of the night I decide to go hang out with friends and drink a beer and write a song, that does not exist anymore. I recorded an album, but only during their school hours,” she says. “It was a good feeling to be home every night for dinner.”
Furthermore, Crow’s sons — whom she prefers not to show in photographs, to help provide a normal life for them — provided inspiration for the album.
“I’m very protective of them being allowed to have the innocence of being children,” says Crow, whose new songs “Be Myself” and “Roller Skate” were influenced by society’s dependence on technology and social media.
“They don’t have iPhones, they don’t have TVs in their room and we have a 30-minute rule: 30 minutes of screen, either the TV or the iPad, and that’s it.”
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Crow worries too much electronics might lead to a form of addiction.
“When Wyatt was really little and we would be flying, we had educational games on the iPad, and he learned his letters and numbers and all that — but what really happens?” she says. “He’s learning things, but also his brain is becoming like a little sponge for those bright colors and those quick edits, and what it winds up doing is it creates this addiction. It’s crazy.”
Continues the mother of two, “It’s easier for a parent to say, ‘Ugh, let them sit on the iPad, I’ve got things I need to do.’ And I feel that way sometimes: ‘I just need an hour to myself, here’s your iPad.’ But I know that it’s like giving a hit off a crack pipe, and then saying, ‘How did you wind up being addicted to crack?!’ ”
“At this point in my life, I am grounded and peaceful in knowing the order of things,” she says. “There have been days where I think, ‘I suck as a mom; I can’t do anything right.’ ”
“But at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than family,” Crow admits. “I’m so blessed.”
For more on Sheryl Crow, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.