"I felt like I was always second, and no one ever made me feel that way, but I think when your significant other had such a long relationship with the previous spouse and a lot of love, and it was very public divorce," Heather says about her initial relationship with Christina, who shares children Taylor, 12, and Brayden, 7, with Tarek.
"You’re coming into it, and you fall in love with each other, but you always kind of think of the ex," she adds.
For Heather, it was all about taking her time as she became a daily factor in Taylor and Brayden's lives.
"For me in the beginning I was treading more lightly," she says. "I didn’t want to come in and discipline right away. I wanted to build a bond first. We have 50/50 custody so I’m in their life a lot. There aren’t really any rules. We have a good situation because he lets me parent how I want to."
When it comes to navigating co-parenting, Heather admits it was a challenge, but putting the children first has been key to their success.
"I kinda had to navigate my own feelings along with falling in love with a man, raising children, getting a whole new family and also filming my own TV shows. It wasn’t always perfect," she says. "We definitely had some ups and downs, and they had ups and downs, and I think she realized how much I love the kids and they are number one to me over anything. So any drama aside, the kids are the most important thing to all of us."
For the co-parents, communication is key.
"Her and I communicate about the kids," Heather says about her interactions with Christina. "She will ask me how do you feel about this? Her and I are the moms."
"A personal matter was discussed and has since been resolved. We are focused on co-parenting as a team moving forward," the group told ET at the time.
Today, Heather is focusing on being a great mother, while making sure her personal needs are met.
"I think it’s hard, because before I met my husband and the kids, I was single, living in L.A. and filming a TV show," she says. "I was dating, I had time to be with my girlfriends, I was living with a best friend and then all of a sudden, I jump into a mom role, a wife role, I take on his big family. I’ve always told my husband, my career is also very important to me, and I think that’s helped me maintain not losing myself. I take care of myself, I get my massages, I get my nails done, but I also am a really good mom."
The Netflix star adds that she has "mom guilt" but she hasn’t allowed that to get in the way, as she remembers how present she is in the children’s lives.
"Sometimes I feel guilty about that," she says about taking time for herself. "Then I’m like, 'Why?' Because they’re happy, they’re healthy, they love me. I love them and I give them the time I have. And I prioritize them. So why am I feeling guilty?"
Heather has been open about her affection toward her stepchildren. In October, the mommy-to-be penned a special note to Taylor, ahead of her becoming a big sister once again.
"The girl who stole my heart the day I met her," she captioned a picture of Taylor kissing her on the cheek. "I couldn’t have asked for a better response from Tay and Bray about our pregnancy and of course Tay was the very first person to find out because on the night I told Tarek about our pregnancy we were tucking her in and she said to us that if we do end up having a baby she wants to be the first person to know… so we had to tell her right then and there instead of surprising her and Bray together 😆 Love this girl to pieces and can’t wait to see her be the best big sister to another baby brother ❤️."
The New Rules is available on Today All Day, the morning show’s streaming channel.