How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the world, who are raising their own unique families and sharing their best advice and most heartfelt lessons with PEOPLE. Want to be a part of it? Email what makes your family so special to howiparent@peoplemag.com.

By Diane J. Cho
December 01, 2019 10:00 AM
Jessie James Decker

Name: Jessie James Decker
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, New York Times best-selling author and founder and CEO of Kittenish
Family situation: Married to Eric Decker! We have 3 babies: Vivianne, 5, Eric Jr., 4 and Forrest, 19 months. My husband and I take care of the kids together. We’re a team. When we have work to do, we take turns in shifts to make sure the kids have everything they need. My mom and sister also help us out a ton and we are so thankful for them!
Parenting “philosophy” in a sentence: Babies are little once. Love them, squeeze them, kiss them, tuck them into bed, greet them when they wake up in the morning with their little sleepy faces and make them feel loved. They grow up fast but all the love you give to them when they are little will help them to grow into happy, confident adults.

Jessie James Decker

What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
Eric and I always knew we wanted to have kids, even before we got married. Once we did, we knew we would be great parents and partners because we were both raised by amazing parents ourselves. We’ve taken everything we’ve learned from them and put it towards how we parent our children today. Even though we’re not planning to have any more kids, if a fourth kid happened to come along, it would be a blessing.

Jessie James Decker

As for the three that we already have, they’re each little bits and pieces of me and Eric. We’ll find ourselves saying things like, “Oh, that’s so you Eric,” or “Oh my God, that’s a little mini Jess.” We know how to communicate with them because luckily, there are no real wild cards in any of our children. We’re very lucky because we see so much of ourselves in them, so communicating and understanding their emotions comes naturally to us.

With a full house, things can get hectic so I try to schedule everything out and get things done before they come home from school. I wake up at 6:30 a.m. and then Eric and I will get the kids ready. Then, it’s off to the races. I’ll get all my work done by 2:45 p.m. and then I’ll shut everything down to go pick them up. Once they come home, we’ll have snack time and hang out before dinner. Our youngest, Forrest, is obsessed with Enfagrow [editors’ note: Decker is a brand ambassador], so I’ll keep a bunch in the fridge. He needs that extra nutrition from their formula since he’s not drinking breast milk anymore. After dinner, it’s time for baths then bedtime. Anything else I have to get done has to wait until my kids go to sleep.

It’s really important to me to set schedules and boundaries so the people I work with know that certain things or times are off limits. Sometimes I’ll have to say, “Hey, I’m going to be out of commission from these times every day, so you can reach out to me during these hours and I’m all yours.” I focus a lot of my energy on my schedule so my children can remain my first priority.

Jessie James Decker

How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?
My mother is my biggest inspiration. I always think to myself, What would mom have done in this situation?

As a child, I always felt like my mom did everything the right way. My mom was extremely attentive, loving and affectionate, and she always gave us so much attention and care. She was our biggest supporter and still is. I call her every day. She is my idol.

Jessie James Decker

What’s your favorite thing about parenting?
My favorite thing is feeling the unconditional love I have for my children. I love waking up in the middle of the night because our daughter snuck in our bed. I’ll see her little face and her nose is on my nose, and she’s smiling. She’ll have messy hair and her little blankets with her. I love going into Forrest’s room while he’s trying to jump out of his crib because he’s so excited. I just love being with them all the time, they’re my favorite people. Knowing that Eric and I made our family out of love makes me fall for them even more. We’re like a wolf pack and there’s nothing stronger than that.

What’s the hardest part?
I’d say wanting to make sure you feel like you’re doing everything right because you love your children so much. I never want to let my kids down. Of course, there are times when I have mom guilt when I have to leave for a trip or something work-related. Or, I’ll get down on myself if I forgot about a school event, or if they were supposed to wear the color purple and I completely missed the email. Little things like that will happen, but through those experiences, I’ve learned that I have a really great mom community around me. Even on Instagram, I feel like I see women coming together to support each other because it’s a hard job, but it’s the best job in the world.

What do the holidays mean to you and how will you be spending them with your family this year?
Eric and I just moved into a new house, so we are really thrilled to have our first holiday here. He’s already asked to put the Christmas tree up. I’m one of those stubborn people that doesn’t like to put the tree up until Thanksgiving is over because I love to celebrate Thanksgiving on its own, but this year he won.

Jessie James Decker

What’s the best advice you can share with new parents?
Expect the unexpected. You won’t really understand until you have kids but you’ll learn to roll with the punches. As long as you’re doing your best and putting love into everything you do, it’ll work itself out.

I tried to plan out my entire delivery with Vivianne. I was going to go into labor, my water was going to break and I was going to push her out — but that’s not how it happened. I was in labor for 14 hours and my baby got stuck and I had to have an emergency C-section. I didn’t get to hold her as soon as she was born, which I did not expect, and it was traumatic for me. When it came to having a second and third baby, it was so much easier and I had peace of mind knowing that anything could happen but as long as my babies were healthy, I would take whatever came my way. Plus, when your kids hit two and you have to start potty training, you need to be ready for anything.

What would you want your kids to say about you as a parent?
I would love for them to say that their mommy is the best. But as they get older, I hope they’ll be able to talk highly of me, as I do my own mother. She makes me feel like I can do anything in this world, and I would love for my children to feel the same way about me.

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