"Motherhood is beautiful, but it isn't always pretty," says Bruce, whose new book, You are a F*cking Awesome Mom, is available now

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Leslie Bruce and Lauren Conrad
Credit: Katee Grace Photography

Since she created her blog Unpacified in 2016, Leslie Bruce has amassed a loyal following through her aims to pull back the curtain on glossy idealized versions of motherhood and share the beautiful truths: from sleepless nights to nagging guilt.

“Motherhood is beautiful, but it isn’t always pretty,” says Bruce, whose new book, You are a F*cking Awesome Mom is available now. “Even good moms have bad days.”

And parenting in the age of social media and constant comparisons can make life even harder. “Motherhood only looks easy on Instagram,” says Bruce, whose fans include Lauren Conrad, Jenny McCarthy, Jana Kramer and Jamie Lynn Sigler.

Below, Bruce shares her top tips for surviving—and thriving—on even the toughest parenting days.

1. Don’t just plan for having a baby, plan for becoming a mother.

We spend so much time planning for baby—researching strollers and cribs and BPA-free baby bottles—but we forget to plan for our own needs in the days and weeks postpartum. As women, we’re experiencing this incredible life event; it’s beautiful, but it’s also really intense. Our bodies, minds, hormones…everything is in a complete tailspin, while simultaneously having to keep a new small human alive. It’s a lot to throw in someone’s lap. Not only do we need to prepare mentally for the journey we’re about to go on, but we also need to create a plan for our own recovery…because giving birth is kind of a huge deal.

2. You cannot do this on our own, so quit trying to!

A lot of women today have this “I can do it all mentality!”—which most of the time, is pretty awesome. I was raised to believe I could do and accomplish anything I set my mind to, so when my daughter was born, I thought I could handle it all. Boy, was I wrong. I got really lost in new motherhood, largely because I was trying to be everything to everyone, while also recovering from childbirth and caring for my daughter. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and really anxious. Raising children was never something we were supposed to do on our own and we need to keep reminding women to rely on the people in their tribe for support. People want to help! You just need to let them.

Leslie Bruce
Credit: Leslie Bruce

3. Don’t believe everything you see on social media.

As a new mom, I used Instagram as a way to grade my own motherhood performance, and I determined pretty early on that I was failing. Every mom on social media seemed to have these perfect cherubic newborns swaddled in lace who slept all the time. My baby never slept—but if she did, it sure as hell wasn’t in a Moses basket covered in rose petals! And don’t even get me started on the moms who look like supermodels ten minutes after delivering—I rarely managed to get out of my pajamas most days. Seeing it play out on social media, I was the only one having a hard time with new motherhood and that left me feeling really devalued. So, my message to all new moms is to take social media with a pretty big grain of salt. Just because you see it on your feed, does not make it real life. Follow the accounts that feed your soul, offer support and make you feel good about the awesome job you’re doing.

4. Your relationship will be seriously tested, but you’ll get through it.

Life with a new baby is a learning curve for everyone—including your partner. For those of us fortunate enough to enter parenthood with a spouse or partner at our side, it’s important to remember that we all have our own journey. But keep in mind that it’s normal for things to be pretty bumpy at first. My husband got his iPhone thrown out our bedroom window, and we’re still married. (In my opinion, the ESPN app should be off limits during witching hour. Period.) You’re both going through a pretty intense transition, and, you know what they say, we take things out on the people we’re closest with (and their phones).

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5. Stop trying to get back to your “old self,” because, chances are, it’s not going to happen.

That sounds scary, right? But it’s actually really amazing. In the early days after I had my baby, I was so desperate to get back to “feeling” like myself again, but what I didn’t realize is that becoming a mom is a forever change. My children are always going to be my first thought at the beginning of the day, and my last thought at the end of the day. (Unless I’m watching Bachelor in Paradise and end up down a social media rabbit hole of Caelynn and Dean posts). In all seriousness, you can’t go back to who you were before, and, honestly, you won’t want to. It may take some time to figure all that out, but I promise you that you will love who you are as a mom so much more than you thought possible.

You Are a F*cking Awesome Mom is available on Amazon.