How to Prepare Your Home and Life for Parenting With a Disability
If you live with a disability, you’re probably used to adapting your life to everyday challenges. Caring for a new baby will present a new set of challenges to overcome. This may sound scary, but you’re not alone! Recent research discovered that there are 4.1 million parents in the United States living with a disability. Welcoming a baby into your life will simply require some extra planning and preparation.
Preparing Your Home
Home fixes will make it easier to provide care for your new baby while ensuring the safety of everyone in your family.
Make Your House Accessible
First, make your home as accessible as possible. Replacing stairs with ramps is a simple way to create a zero-step entrance. This makes it easier to carry bags of groceries and baby supplies or manoeuvre a stroller through your entrance. You can also widen doorways with offset or expandable door hinges. These add two inches of doorway clearance without requiring alterations to the structure of your doorframe.
Reduce Fall Hazards
Babies want to be picked up and carried often, so it’s important to remove tripping hazards from your home. Children’s toys and objects are often left all over the floor which can be dangerous. Try to designate a specific playroom or area to keep toys safely out of the way. Install hard, skid-resistant flooring in your home since carpets can create uneven surfaces. Linoleum and vinyl are great materials for this. Place hard non-slip plastic mats over carpeted areas and avoid rugs that can slide, fold, or bunch.
Simplify Bath Time and Meal Prep
To make your children’s bath time easier, install grab bars in bathtubs and showers. You can also use loop or lever faucets to control the water without leaning over the tub. Take advantage of bath temperature and level indicators as well. Additionally, position a mobile cart by your bath so you can keep soaps, towels, and washcloths within easy reach.
Meal preparation may be another challenge for you. A good tip is to label children’s food with textured tape or braille. Install mirrors under kitchen shelving to provide an easy view of the stove and countertops.
Preparing Your Life
You’ll also want to prepare your life for the mental and emotional challenges that come with a new baby. Psychology Today stresses the importance of prioritizing your relationship with your partner because of the additional challenges that enter your life with a new baby can put a strain on relationships. Make time to spend together as a couple and be prepared for the behavioral changes that result from stress and sleep deprivation. Many parents with a disability will hire live-in childcare when their partners return to work. This may be essential if you have limited mobility and your children like to run off on their own.
Take Care of Yourself
Certain activities may provide discomfort for you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Enlist the help of friends and family if you need rest or assistance with meal preparations. If breastfeeding is a concern, review all of the possible breastfeeding positions illustrated by The Bump and find one that is comfortable.
Part of taking care of yourself includes doing things that you enjoy and working toward goals that you can be proud of. Many parents with disabilities wish to continue their education but feel trapped at home. Luckily, there are many options for online courses. Online learning allows you to further your education without leaving the house, which is helpful when you’re juggling a disability and round-the-clock childcare. This is also a great option if your child has a disability, as the classes work around your busy schedule while also enabling you to expand your knowledge and skills, which can open the door to future opportunities.
Know Where to Find Support
Finally, know where to go for support. The internet is full of resources for parents with disabilities. Disabledparenting.com is an online network where parents can share their experiences, challenges, and offer advice. Connecting with other parents will help you feel better prepared for your parenting journey.
Some of the biggest challenges you may face are people’s judgments about your decision to parent. But, having a disability doesn’t mean that you lack parenting skills! You are probably already very good at overcoming challenges in your daily life, so you will be able to handle the new challenges of childcare with no problem.
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