Normal: Only a Setting on the Washing Machine

Does the word normal come to mind when you think of doing the job of single parenting? Probably not. I mean, who would think it’s normal to raise two children alone, work full time, cook, clean, and pay all the bills by yourself? I don’t know about you, but if that’s what normal is do NOT sign me up.

Someone once told me that normal is just a setting on a washing machine. After being a single mother of three teenagers, I can testify that this statement is correct! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be a single mom, let alone feeling like my life would never feel normal.


Normal: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.


Well no wonder my life was not normal! Being a single-parent was not what I expected my life would be. Is being a single parent usual or typical? It’s more typical then most would care to admit.  

Single mothers are the sole providers in 84% of homes in the United States.

The questions, then, are:

What does a new normal look like as a single-parent?

How do we take practical steps for a new normal?

What does this new normal look like as a single-parent?  

Being a single-parent is tough, you are doing the job as one that God designed for two.


Don’t Stop Dreaming


Don’t stop dreaming! Think back to when you were a little girl, and try to remember what you really wanted in life. What was that one thing you wanted to accomplish?

First, you have to know your dream. It might have changed along the way, so this might take some thinking! Once you have your dream, write it down and set the goals needed to get there. I bought a white board and posted it by the front door so every day as I left for work, I would have a reminder of what I was working towards.

You can do this for your kids, too! Talk to your kids about the goals they have and write the steps to get there. Finally, assign chores for your kids and write it on the board so there’s no confusion on who is doing what. Lastly, celebrate the accomplishments as a family. Your accomplishments as a parent and their accomplishments as a child in the house. 

Every single-parent’s new normal will look different, and that’s perfectly “normal”.


Create New Traditions


For me, holidays were hard because I always had the traditional family dinners for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Birthdays were always a big deal to my kids.  Again, in this new normal, I had to think about what is most important.

Do I want the memories of time with my children?

Do I want to eat out for these holidays so that I don’t have to wash dishes?

Do I want to do something completely different than we did before?

It’s important to keep in mind that your children will remember the time they have with you. One mistake we make as single-parents is working overtime to provide a better life for our children at the expense of losing sight of the end goal of being a present parent.


You Can Do It


How do you embrace this new normal of single-parenting?  You have to be intentional. You will have to decide what is most important in these single-parent years. Allow some room for grace. A LOT of GRACE. Aim for progress not perfection.

Establishing a new normal is exactly that. New.

When we start new things, we don’t do everything right the first time. We make mistakes and we learn ways to make things works better. It will take time for everyone, and some days will be better than others. Single-parents are purposeful parents that just need a new start for a new normal. So set your laundry on the normal cycle while you work on setting your family up on a “new” normal

-April McKnight

Former Shepherd’s Village Resident


What are some goals you want to accomplish as individuals and as a family? Ask your kids this question, too.Talk to your kids about the budget and set goals to save for a special trip.


What are the chores you could ask your kids to do to help you around the house? If your kids are old enough, include them in decisions.  Kids love to be a part of something and if everyone is working together this frees up time to spend together.


What are traditions you can continue in your new normal? What are new traditions you could create? Take time to really think about these things before the holidays or birthdays are upon you. You’ll be glad you were proactive in making new meaningful moments.