Prince Albert tells PEOPLE about trying to find a work-life balance with his little ones

By Maria Mercedes Lara Peter Mikelbank
December 10, 2015 12:15 PM
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

It’s time for another royal birthday – or rather, two of them!

Thursday, Dec. 10 marks the first birthday for Prince Albert and Princess Charlene‘s little twins, Crown Prince Jacques Honor Rainier, the Marquis of Baux, and Gabriella, Th r se Marie, Countess of Carlad s.

Albert, 57, had been spending time in Paris attending the COP 21 summit alongside other global leaders, but he told PEOPLE he would be leaving the conference before its official end on Dec. 11 to celebrate his twins’ first birthday in Monaco.

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert introduce the twins to the public on Jan. 7
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“It’s been a difficult year, a most rewarding year. It’s been difficult to try and find the adequate amount of time to be there as much as you’d like,” Albert tells PEOPLE of trying to balance his royal workload with raising two new babies. “It’s been very challenging somedays with all the work I’ve had.”

However, that isn’t to say it hasn’t been an enjoyable experience for Albert. He adds, “You know, you never know how kids are going to turn out. But if this first few months have been any indication, it’s going to be an incredible joyride and an incredible experience.”

As for the family’s birthday plans, while the twins’ birth was celebrated as a national holiday last year, the royal told PEOPLE that they’ll keep things low-key.

“I think from now on and in the immediate coming years, their birthdays ought to be more private events,” says Albert.

Hopefully, the two little royals will be celebrating their big day with another big occasion – taking their first steps!

Prince Albert II of Monaco with Princess Charlene and their twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella
Eric Gaillard/Reuters/Landov

“They’ve wanted to walk for some weeks on end now, and they are almost there on their own,” Albert told PEOPLE. “They’ve been pulling themselves upright since late August and you still have to hold their arms, but they’re almost there. By their first birthday, they should be taking their first steps on their own.”

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It’s been a year full of milestones and big events for Monaco’s littlest royals. In May, they wore Dior gowns for their christening, which was marked with a massive public celebration and over 700 onlookers filling up the Cathedral de Monaco. In August, the two donned traditional costumes for an annual picnic celebrating Mon gasque culture. The two little ones also got their first taste of activism when they joined their parents for the March for Climate on Nov. 29.

Prince Albert of Monaco with his wife, Princess Charlene, and their twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella
Lionel Cironneau/AP

Charlene, 37, has been busy taking care of her twins, including pulling early-morning shifts!

“She’s very eager to be with her children at all times,” Albert previously told PEOPLE. “She’s up with the kids at 6, 6:30 and takes them through the morning. Every day. And she continues work for her foundation and her personal workouts, keeping up with her swimming.

“But really. I don’t think they would be as smiling and happy as they are if she weren’t as good a mother as she is.”