updated 08/18/2014 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/20/2014 AT 9:15 AM ET
There are those who are in denial about turning 40. Then there’s Ryan Seacrest, who’s opting to look the landmark square in the eye.
His upcoming milestone birthday in December “is a turning point number where you go, ‘Wait, you’ve got to grow up a little bit,’ ” the American Idol host tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview at his sprawling Beverly Hills home. “I’m actually embracing it!”
For one of the busiest stars in show business, who has built a multimedia empire that includes Idol, a syndicated daily radio show, a production company, and now, a new men’s clothing and accessories line for Macy’s, this means adding “find balance” to his brimming to-do list.
“Until recently, I felt I shouldn’t ever have a day off and felt guilty going on vacation,” says the Emmy winner. “That was pressure I put on myself. I’ve gotten a little more relaxed as I approach 40.”
This revelation is music to his mom’s ears. “I’m happy he’s come to that point,” says Connie Seacrest, an Atlanta homemaker, who works with her husband Gary, a lawyer, and Seacrest’s younger sister Meredith at the Ryan Seacrest Foundation.
“With this milestone birthday, I think he’s saying, ‘Is that all there is? I need to fulfill myself on a personal level.’ ”
And, in time, this may mean settling down and starting a family.
“I look at what my mom and dad have had for 40-plus years – a fantastic relationship and great marriage,” says Seacrest, who split with actress Julianne Hough in 2013 and is currently dating model-trainer Shayna Taylor, 23.
“Someday I’d like that. They’re my role models.”
For more from Seacrest’s exclusive interview and at-home photo shoot, pick up a copy of this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands nationwide Friday