"We're in the thick of it, and it feels good," Hilary Duff tells PEOPLE of her family of five

By Jeff Nelson
May 05, 2021 09:00 AM
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These days, Hilary Duff's life is full of joy — and plenty of juggling.

On March 24, the Younger actress and her husband, singer-songwriter Matthew Koma, both 33, welcomed daughter Mae James, who joins their older daughter Banks Violet, 2, and Duff's son Luca Cruz, 9, from her first marriage.

"I have help, but babies just want their mom. Even Luca is still like, 'Mom, Mom, Mom.' Mom cooks the thing the right way, and Mom packs the bag the right way. It's crazy," Duff says of her new life as a mom of three.

"It's a learning curve to throw a newborn into the mix. A lot of people have been like, 'That third kid really gets you.' And they're right!"

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hilary duff with her children
Hilary Duff and Matthew Koma with their family
| Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

Duff finished filming the seventh and final season of Younger (streaming on Paramount+) when she was eight months pregnant and released her New York Times best-selling children's book My Little Brave Girl just before Mae was born. Soon, she'll get back to work on her next project: producing and starring in Hulu's How I Met Your Mother spin-off, How I Met Your Father.

So for now, Duff is relishing this rare time off.

"I'm so in love with all my kids," she says, "and I love this mayhem."

Duff found the perfect partner in Koma, who helps her navigate the chaos now that they're outnumbered by their children.

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"He was such an amazing dad right out the gate," Duff says. "In this time of breastfeeding and craziness, he was like, 'I'm just going to be your assistant because I think that's how I'm going to be the most help to you in this timeframe.' He has this really amazing way of looking at the big picture where I'm very much like, right-here-right-now — and he zooms out."

hilary duff with her children
Hilary Duff with son Luca and daughters Banks and Mae
| Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

The pair met when they collaborated on her 2015 album Breathe In. Breathe Out and dated on and off for years before locking it down.

"We knew we just had to be together because we tried a bunch of times to be apart, and that didn't work out for either one of us," Duff says.

After welcoming Banks in 2018, Duff — who split from ex-husband Mike Comrie in 2014 — began to warm up to tying the knot again.

After Duff sent Koma a screen-grab of a ring that caught her eye, he surprised her with a proposal in May 2019, and they wed that December. The newlyweds spent much of their first year of marriage quarantining amid the coronavirus crisis.

"It's definitely an experience that brought us closer and stronger," Koma — whose band Winnetka Bowling League has new music coming soon — says of how parenting in the pandemic bonded them.

Now they are settling into their new family of five.

"I love when everyone's full of energy and the house is buzzing. You never know what the day is going to bring or what your kid's going to say," she says. "We're in the thick of it, and it feels good."

Still, Duff says she can't help but look to the future: "It took me a week into having Mae to be like, 'I'm going to have two teenage girls. Holy s—, how am I going to deal with that?' "

For more from Hilary Duff, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.