Single mums we love: Julia Hasche
It’s a Friday night in Melbourne. Sydney-based Julia Hasche has organised a catch up over wine and pizza at a St Kilda pub with around 30 single mums. I’m one of them.
Julia and I had become friends over Instagram, chatting regularly, including a lengthy interview over the phone for this very piece. We ended up speaking so much longer than I had planned because we got on so well, and for me, it felt really special to speak to someone who understands what its like to do this parenting gig solo.
But this is the first time we’d met in real life and I get it.
I get why 30 or so single mums who don’t know one another have organised babysitters, braved the cold and tackled Friday night traffic to come and hang out with her.
I get why she has a legion of more than 15 thousand Instagram followers hanging off her every word through her platform, The Single Mother Survival Guide, where she offers tips, practical advice, hosts a podcast, offers life coaching, and inspires women, many of which have marched through hell and back, to heal their hearts in order to be the best versions of themselves.
She’s transformed an incredibly difficult chapter in her life into a space of support, love and guidance, and she was one of the first accounts I followed when I became a single mum, because I needed examples of women just like me.
She’s one of those rare people who inspire the best out of people. She makes you feel valued and heard and she welcomes you in as if you’d known one another for years.
But, of course, once upon a time her life looked very different. She was just like every other single mum with no one to turn to. No resources to help her through a messy separation, and fumbling through those early, awkward days where you wonder if life will ever make sense again.. and you think how the hell did I end up being a single mum!?
Julia was six months pregnant. She was alone in her apartment, having just split with her partner after a tumultuous relationship, when the weight of raising a baby alone dawned on her.
“I remember just sitting there and saying, how is this my life? How am I pregnant and single? This wasn’t supposed to be my life,” she says.
“No one dreams of being a single mum one day.”
So she did what so many of us faced with a similar predicament have done, she tried to patch things up with her ex for the sake of her unborn child.
“I thought to myself, it’s Christmas, I don’t want to be alone, I don’t want to be apart, we have to make it work”
Three months later, their daughter was born. Two months after that, Julia and her partner called it quits for good.
“By then, it was actually a relief, he was adding an element that was so much more stressful to an already stressful and scary situation. I finally said you know what? You’ve upset me the entire pregnancy, but I will not allow you to impact on how I mother. There was no choice at this stage. This was my baby,” she explains.
However, mum guilt weighed heavily, clouding her judgement as to whether going it alone was the right thing to do.
“I felt like there’s this little baby I've brought into the world and she should have two parents living together, that’s what she needs. I felt like I’d let her down and I was a failure. I also felt like being a single mum held a certain stigma, and i didn't want to be in that category… I wanted the “perfect” family. It took me a long while to realise it’s perfect as it is.”
But, her intuition knew it was the right choice, and despite those terrifying initial stages, where you wonder how you’ll get through the next hour, let alone the next day or week, somehow, she put one foot in front of the other. But, like so many new mums, Julia was becoming increasingly lonely and isolated.
She’d moved to Perth from Sydney for a job as an engineer in the mines as well as to be with her then partner, who also worked in a similar field.
“I had no one in Perth. No family. No close friends. And because of his job as a fly in and fly out worker, he kindly agreed to let me come back to Sydney. I was lucky… he could've taken me to court and made me stay there.”
Julia was home. But she craved connection with likeminded women who understood what she was going through.
“I was looking for something about people who'd been through the same thing. I looked for books and blogs, but I couldn’t find anything. So I started what I wished existed when I became a single mum – a single mums group.”
Turns out the single mum community was crying out for a place to connect and belong; what started as a simple Facebook page quickly grew to five hundred members.
“The women I connected with were so relieved, they finally felt like they weren't the only ones. I very quickly discovered I really liked helping women and writing about my experiences, and I thought well I've found a passion. I wanted to help single mums on a national, even global scale. I was employed at the time but as the universe would have it, I got made redundant a few months after starting out, and that’s when I thought maybe I should turn this into a business, and thats what I did.”
And just like that, in 2016, the Single Mother Survival Guide was born -– a one-stop-shop designed to inspire single parents and help them navigate their new life.
It’s filled with helpful resources and articles, ranging from child support, Centrelink tips and tricks, and budgeting on a single income, to dating, how to deal with an unreasonable ex, managing head lice, new years resolutions, and so much more.
“Writing about your personal experiences is so helpful to others,” Julia explains.
“The blog has helped me. And I’d just like to say to someone reading this who feels alone, we all want human connections with people, there are so many online groups and support groups you can connect with people in same situation, I think its so great to reach out and share.”
Did she ever imagine she’d be at the helm of one of the biggest resources for single parents in the world when she was settling into her new Sydney home, feeling lost and alone, craving connection?
“No! Definitely not. I was thinking this the other day, when I became a single mum, I was in such a bad place. But looking back, I've achieved so much in 12-18 months, and if someone had said you’ll be on [Channel 7’s] The Daily Edition discussing the blog I would've said what!? is this a joke!?”
In addition to the blog, she also runs online courses, mentors single mums, organises social events and juggles a weekly podcast.
“In some of them I talk to experts, chat about finance, I’ll get a lawyer on or a coach of some sort, in others I feature inspirational people who’ve done cool things and I also talk to other single mums about their story – this is the most popular format, people love to hear people going through the same thing, they want to hear stories from women who are killing it and owning it.”
Of course along with running an online platform comes trolls and people who manage to take offence at well, everything.
“When I first started writing I was a lot more open, and I wrote in a non filtered way. Now that the readership has grown I probably write with more of a filter because i don't like being called nasty names. If I think something might offend something or taken the wrong way, I am more careful reading over things, I don't want to upset anyone. However I am completely honest with my story, I'm still honest, maybe too honest, I don't think my parents like to read about my sex life… sorry mum!! But I think its really important and that’s what builds a community. It’s about honesty but not oversharing.”
Julia’s passion project is now a full time gig, and as cliche as it sounds, she says she's never been happier.
“It’s changed my life being a single mum – but in such a good way,” she says.
“You really get to know yourself. It’s not often you’re placed in a situation where you have to figure out who you are, and what you want. Also, the bond between you and your child is super special and strong. It's funny how I hardly blink at situations that once would’ve upset me. I’m really thankful for my ex for that, he's given me a tough skin. I’m really resilient, because now I just think oh well, I've been through worse!”
The only constant in life is change. So to anyone out there, somehow managing to be a kind and caring mum, even if your heart is breaking, or perhaps you’re in the midst of a legal battle in the family court, or the bills are piling up and you have no idea how you’ll make ends meet this month, Julia has this advice:
“I just want other single mums to know that it does get easier. When you are in it you can’t see it now, but life does get better and it actually gets great, you don't know how strong you are until you're in the situation. The start is the hardest it'll be. Start fresh. Get new goals. Figure out who you are. Connect with other single mums. Be kind to yourself. You’re amazing. You’re a great role model. You’re just as worthy, and you’ll get there. I promise.”
You can check out The Single Mother Survival Guide here and connect with Julia on Instagram here.