Contributor: Ashley Taylor
Nothing is more exciting, and potentially terrifying, than bringing home a child for the first time. You want to be a good parent, and as soon as you hold your new child in your arms, you know that you’ll do anything to give them the best life possible. Unsurprisingly, this can cause quite a bit of anxiety. There’s so much you don’t know, won’t know, and when you factor in a disability—life can get stressful, quickly. If you’re worried about preparing your life and your home for your new child, then here are some tips to pulling off the first few weeks as smoothly as possible.
Know Your Limits
This is perhaps the most important advice you can get, so we’re putting it first. When it comes to parenting, it is essential to know what is within our control and what is beyond. This becomes even more true when balancing parenthood with a disability, and if you don’t know where that line is, then you will likely be putting you and your child at risk. That is why it is important to take stock of all the responsibilities of parenting, and figuring out what you can do, what you can’t do, and how to adjust your home, your car, and your lifestyle to fill the gaps and to fit the needs of your new child.
Adapt Your Home
Once you’ve figured out what is within your realm of power and what isn’t you need to start coming up with solutions to make the impossible possible. The way we do this is by adapting various aspects of our lives to enable us to provide the best care for our children. When you’re expecting a child, you will probably need to buy a few things, such as clothes, diapers, a changing table, cradle, and a high-chair for eating at the table. As you look into filling these needs, you should always be aware of how your disability affects your daily routine as a parent.
The changing table, crib, and high chair will need to be easily accessible for you to use. Fortunately, there are many different varieties of these baby-care products, with a few options that will address any issues your disability presents. Beyond what you buy for your child, you need to also consider the state of you home as it is, and what possible adjustments it may need to support life as a parent. Are your rugs slip-safe? Does your bathroom allow you to easily bathe your child? Nuanced questions such as these will help guide you into making the right adaptations to your home to prepare you for parenthood.
How to Be a Parent on the Move
Sorting your house is one thing, but unless you plan on never stepping foot outside your door again, then you should also consider how you’re going to manage parenting on the move. By now you’ve learned how to work with your disability and meet your transportation needs. Now that you are a parent, you will need to figure out how to get around with your new baby. This includes having the right carrier, and also having a safe and easy to use car seat or booster seat to ensure that your child is safe when on the go.
Never Turn Down Good Help
There is this stigma amongst some parents, who feel like they should raise a child completely on their own, and that anytime they surrender responsibility, it’s a sign of being a bad parent. This myth is not only wrong, but can make your life extremely (and unnecessarily) complicated. You can own all the parenting handbooks in the world, but you will still encounter situations where you’ll have no clue what to do. There will be times when you can’t be around your child, and that’s okay. Never turn down help from family, or friends willing to offer it, and always know the resources made available to you as a parent with disabilities.
It’s okay to feel anxious as an expecting parent. There are so many unknowns now that your world is about to get bigger. But along with the unknowns there will be moments filled with joy, and memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.
-Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com