I was contacted recently by Ashley Taylor, from disabledparents.org asking to write a piece with advice for those of us with disabilities on how to prepare our lives and homes for parenthood. Here is her piece:
Having a child is unlike any experience in life. The combination of joy, stress, and wonder cannot be understated. For the first time in your life, an entire human is completely dependent on you. That’s an amazing experience everyone should enjoy, which is why you are so excited about being pregnant.
But will your disability make a stressful time even harder? Will it interfere with raising your child? To be honest, everyone needs some tips and advice to prepare for parenthood. As with most aspects of having a disability, you will do some things differently but can otherwise be a great parent to your child. You just need to make some preparations, including some minor changes to your home.
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Making Your Home Ready
When you come home from the hospital, your baby will spend most of its time either in their crib or in your arms. But as Parents.com explains, they almost become mobile and quick before you know it. That’s why you have to make sure your home is safe.
Make sure all cleaning products are out of sight and behind a locked door. That’s also true for any medication you have to take to help with your disability. Don’t assume your small baby cannot reach what you can. Instead, keep it all secure. Use child-safe locks on cabinets whenever possible.
You’ll also need help keeping the place clean. It’s not like an infant needs a sterile environment, but they will need clean clothes, floors, and toys. If you can do this all by yourself, that’s perfect. If your disability makes that harder, don’t feel bad asking friends and family for help.
Preparing For A New Life
Besides getting your home ready for a newborn, you have to get yourself ready. Every parent faces the same loss of independence when they have to care for a child. However, The Mighty explains that you can face heartbreak if you feel your disability is getting in the way. Just remember that all parents struggle from time to time. As with life as a whole, just because you face different challenges doesn’t mean you cannot be successful.
CNN.com recommends that you view parenting challenges that come from your disability as a way to bond with your child. Celebrate your differences by doing all you can to help your kid with (not despite) your different needs. As your child grows up, they can see your disability as something special that makes your relationship unique.
You’ll also have to worry about your finances. That can be tough if you’re on disability payments, which means you’ll have to be smart with your money. Consider speaking with a financial planner to learn how to secure an income that helps you raise your child.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
As the days turn into months, you will experience the joy of being a parent. But you can also feel a bit lost and overwhelmed. That’s why you have to remember your own needs. Whether that’s something related to your disability or not, you cannot ignore yourself.
That’s why The Treehouse recommends you practice some self-care in addition to taking care of your child. Eat well, get some exercise, and although it’s very hard during the first few weeks, get some sleep! Don’t feel like calling in a babysitter during this time is a bad thing. If it helps you get the rest and rejuvenation you need, then that means you can be a better parent to your child. That’s especially true for any needs related to your disability.
Enjoy This Special Time
Although being a new parent can be tiring and stressful, it’s worth it. You can make this time a little easier by preparing your home, getting your finances in order, and taking care of your own needs from time to time. Regardless of your disability, you can be an incredible parent this way.
Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven’t stopped them from leading a happy, fulfilling life.