Alicia Keys ''respected herself for the first time'' when she became a mother.

The 'If I Ain't Got You' hitmaker - who has Egypt, five, and Genesis, 18 months, with her husband Swizz Beatz - says bringing up her two children has made her respect her time more.

She said: ''I think that was the biggest change for me when I had my first son. I really kind of respected myself for the first time. I know that might sound weird, but I feel like in a lot of ways I did.

''I respected my time for the first time and I respected the value of what that meant and what I was giving up when I spent it incorrectly or when I used it correctly. I just knew when to draw the line more, when I didn't know how to do that before.

''I didn't feel concerned about what I was going to miss out on or what I was going to lose by not doing whatever. Like choosing to be present. That was a big lesson - you grow up. You need to grow up like that.''

And the 35-year-old singer also opened up about what she thinks is important in a relationship.

She told Citizens of Humanity magazine: ''I think the most important thing in any relationship is presence - being present and really choosing to make the time and take the time for the people that you love; not letting everything else be more important, or everyone else be more important, not letting a part of your job be more important or a part of your career be more important.

''There's no way in the world you're in a relationship for seven years, 10 years, and you're going to be the same person you were at the beginning. In fact, that would be horrible. So you're both growing and both evolving and learning more about yourself and learning more about each other, and I think when you give each other the opportunity to continue to know each other, that really strengthens it.''