By Guest Writer Ashley Taylor
Parenthood is a big job, and one of the most stressful things you’re likely to ever do, but it’s also rewarding in so many ways. It can be a bit overwhelming, however, especially if you’re one of the 1-in-5 Americans who, according to the Census Bureau, lives with a disability. Preparing for a new baby requires a multi-prong approach that involves making sure the house is safe, that you have all the physical items necessary--diapers, a crib, bassinet, and/or car seat that meets current safety standards, and clothing--and that you are emotionally and mentally prepared for the demanding work ahead of you.
One of the most important parts of preparing for a baby is to make sure your home is safe for everyone in the family. Even though your little one won’t be moving around for awhile, it’s a good idea to think ahead. If your home has stairs, invest in some sturdy baby gates to prevent falls when he begins to crawl. Use outlet covers for any electrical outlets not in use, and keep loose cords tied together. If your windows have mini blinds, put the pull cords up out of reach to prevent strangulation hazards. You’ll also want to check out the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector (or install one) to make sure they are working properly and have fresh batteries.
Go from room to room and look at things from a child’s point of view; anything that will be in his reach when he becomes mobile could be a potential hazard. It’s also a good idea to take a look at any areas that may need attention, such as a bathroom that has been modified for your disability. It may be necessary to make a few small changes to ensure safety for both you and your child. For more tips on how to ease parenting with a disability, look at Redfin.com.
Do some research and look for support in your area. It may come from a parenting class, your local hospital, or an online support group for new parents (or one that is specific to parents with disabilities). Having the support of someone who understands what you’re going through can be extremely helpful when you have a new child.
Look for ways to get active
Individuals with disabilities often have trouble being social after the arrival of a new baby, in part because they feel overwhelmed with the thought of going out alone with such precious cargo. But it’s important to find ways to be active and stay social even after the baby comes in order to ensure that your mental and physical health are well maintained. There are many ways you can remain active. Dr. Joseph Mercola, a Chicago-based osteopathic physician, suggests making the kids a part of your fitness routine.
Parenting is certainly a challenge, but with some good planning and the support of your friends and family, it doesn’t have to be a daunting one. You can prepare for your new addition by taking safety precautions and getting in the right mindset. Keep communication open with your loved ones about your needs, and reach out when you need help.
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.