Christina Aguilera Is Busier Than Ever with Work – but She Will 'Always' Put Her Kids First

For 10 years, Christina Aguilera put touring on hold for two very special reasons: her kids.

A doting mom to 4½-year-old daughter Summer Rain (with fiancé Matt Rutler) and 11-year-old son Max Liron (with ex-husband Jordan Bratman), Aguilera is now again busier than ever as she preps for her new Las Vegas residency, The Xperience, at Planet Hollywood.

“It’s definitely not easy. I will openly say that,” she tells PEOPLE about balancing motherhood with her ever-evolving career. “The key is truly making sure that they always feel safe and always feel connected.”

Now with Max in his tween years, he’s “got his own thing going on,” shares Aguilera, 38. Her daughter, however, is still very attached to Mom.

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Christina Aguilera Poses with Daughter Summer Ahead of Her Liberation Tour: “Roadie 4 Life”

Last year on her Liberation Tour, the singer brought Summer out on stage — and her little girl was a constant presence behind the scenes as well.

“She’s super shy, but she did not want to miss one of Mommy’s shows!” says Aguilera. “I was shocked. If I was her, I would just be sitting on the bus watching my favorite TV shows. But she wanted to be at the side of the stage where she could see me.”

After Aguilera would exit the stage, “[Summer] would absolutely get mad at me if I didn’t invite her on,” says the star. “I was like, ‘We can’t do that every single night, babe!’ It’s very cute.”

Aguilera may also have a budding star on her hands. While traveling on tour with Mom, Summer “loved the energy,” the “Beautiful” songstress tells PEOPLE.

“She loves performance energy, and everybody’s in costume so it’s allowing her to be herself,” Aguilera explains. “I would let her wear her PAW Patrol costume every single night. Now she’s super into Spider-Man.”

At the end of the day, the singer says she’s happy to be flexing her creative muscles again — but only if her children continue fulfilling their own passions: “I always want to make sure they feel their own vibes and interests are being met first. Then I can relax and be creative!”

For much more on Christina Aguilera’s new residency show, motherhood and 20 years of pop superstardom, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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