By Megan Daley
Updated April 08, 2015 at 05:37 PM EDT
Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Country music star Garth Brooks exploded out of a 14-year retirement in Nov. 2014 with Man Against Machine, which has reached platinum status. Now, he’s heading back on the road with his wife Trisha Yearwood for a world tour and is up for one of the biggest awards in country music, Entertainer of the Year, at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. But since 2000, it’s been all about family for Brooks, as he told People in an exclusive interview.

“People said, ‘How could you walk away from music?'” Brooks told People. “But being a dad—there’s nothing that can touch that.”

The Grammy-winning singer took those years to spend extra time with his three daughters from his first marriage to Sandy Mahl. Brooks relished the quality time, which included attending school plays and soccer games, but also loved the private moments on his ranch in Oklahoma, packing lunches and doing chores.

He said kids are “the greatest joy and the greatest heartache you’ll ever have. The saying is, as long as your babies are healthy, everything else you can deal with.”

To read more of Brooks’ interview about fatherhood and coping with his now-empty nest, head on over to People.