The 'Bachelor in Paradise' alum shares her two kids — Bella, 5, and Charlie, 3 — with ex Evan Bass
Carly Waddell may be done with two-on-ones in her dating life, but she's loving being outnumbered by her two kids.
While chatting exclusively with PEOPLE about her new music, the Bachelor in Paradise alum, 37, also opened up about co-parenting, being a single mom and how her little ones inspired a few of her songs.
"I'm telling you, they're my number one fans," Waddell tells PEOPLE of her two kids, Isabella "Bella" Evelyn, 5, and Charles "Charlie" Wolf, 3.
"My daughter figured out how to play my songs on her iPad, so she'll walk into my room at all hours of the day just blasting something, one of them. They know all the words," Waddell says. "They love music anyway. They think I'm like Taylor Swift. They have no idea what's happening, but they really are my biggest fans."
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The singer, who has released four songs so far, has six new songs on an EP coming out soon, including one inspired by her kids. "There's one song that's written about them. There's only really kind of one super personal song that I wrote. It's called 'Two Little Angels,' " Waddell says.
She goes on to share that the song was one of the hardest for her to write because, at the time, she preferred to draft "fun, women-empowerment songs," but her producer told her to write something from the heart.
"I think people when they go through a divorce, or they're considering it, and they have children, and they're like, 'What do we do? Do we stay together for the kids, or do we not?' " Waddell says, referencing her 2020 divorce with ex Evan Bass, with whom she shares her kids.
"The song 'Two Little Angels' was really written out of that idea that's like...there's no answer to the question. It's just an open-ended question," the mom of two explains. "Obviously I didn't stay together because I had children, but people do."
Although she notes that "Two Little Angels" is her most personal song, she says her kids don't really understand that the track stems from Waddell's lived experience. "They just love singing the chorus because they're like, 'This is about us.' Once it says, 'He's got your eyes, he's got my hair.'"
"They're like, 'Oh my gosh, it's super personal. It's about us.' So they do love it, but they don't really know what it's about."
Waddell originally competed on season 19 of The Bachelor, but met her ex Bass, 40, on season 3 of the franchise's spin-off show Bachelor in Paradise. The two wed in 2017 and went on to have daughter Bella in 2018 and son Charlie in 2019. They split in December 2020.
"Because Evan had done this before — he has three older children — I think it's been a lot easier because he has experienced this and he has previously been divorced," Waddell says of co-parenting.
"It's been fairly easy. I have the kids the majority of the time. He has them every other weekend," she tells PEOPLE. "We don't really have to discuss a lot because the weekends are like, every other weekend's fun at Dad's house and then they come back for school and the kind of 'real life' over here."
Since becoming a single mom, Waddell says that she's been "kind of rocking it."
"I do remember the first night that I didn't have anybody and I just had the kids, and I was alone in my house with them thinking, 'How am I going to do it? How am I going to do this? This is a lot.'"
"I think every day got easier and easier, and now it's just a day. I wouldn't say it's easy. I have a lot of help. My parents live close. I had a really great nanny who is part of the family now that we actually just let go because the kids are in school," Waddell reveals.
"With help and just kind of the person I am, it's been really good for me to be on my own two feet and find myself again through the struggles of doing it all alone."
While she's gotten better at being a single mom, the reality TV alum admits there are still moments where she's finding her footing. Of feeling overwhelmed as a mom, Waddell says, "Oh gosh, I feel like that quite often."
"Especially with a new venture, music has been happening, dating has been happening, school has been...it just started, so I think putting all of those together and trying to figure out how to balance all of that is new and exciting."
"This is the first time I've ever gotten babysitters at night. That's kind of like a mom guilt situation, but I do think when you start doing something new for yourself, I think it's so great," Waddell says.
"I do also want my kids to know that you should do things to make you happy, and regardless of maybe you don't spend as much time with your kids that particular week or something, that they should do things to fulfill them."
"It kind of goes hand in hand. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but then I'm like, 'No, this is actually really good for me and it's good for them.'"
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