3 Things You Can Do to Prepare to Be a Parent with a Disability
While new parents eagerly await the arrival of their bundle of joy, they busily prepare their homes and themselves for their lives to change in the best way possible. All parents try to prepare as much as they can, and parents with disabilities have special considerations to make before a new baby arrives. We share a few things you can do to prepare for your new role as parents, including how to handle the stress that comes along with your newborn.
1. Prepare Your Home
Preparing your home for a new baby does not necessarily have to include baby-proofing, since your little one won’t be crawling for some time. Many new parents feel they need to get their homes ready for baby by installing childproof locks on doors, windows, cabinets, etc., but you have a few months before you need to worry about your baby being able to get into potentially unsafe places. Save yourself time and stress by focusing on the most pressing preparations for a newborn.
For example, you need to choose a space for the nursery, find places for the swing and baby bouncer, and make sure that you have baby monitors in place to help you keep an ear or an eye out for baby at all times. Keep in mind that new parents with disabilities should purchase accessible baby gear.
Consider putting as many items on the main floor of your home as possible if you have mobility challenges. Put a changing station on both levels of your home so that you have the necessities handy. And, put a bassinet in your bedroom to keep your newborn close, so you don’t have to worry about maneuvering around your home in the dark when you’re exhausted and stressed.
2. Find Support
Becoming a new parent is an exciting, stressful, and scary time for anyone. But, people with disabilities may fear that they will struggle in their new role as a parent and not know where to turn for support or encouragement. If you’ve struggled with addiction in the past, especially because of your disability, it is crucial that you find support before you cope with stress in an unhealthy way or put your sobriety at risk. Attend a meeting, talk to your sponsor, or meet with a counselor or therapist to remain in recovery.
Another way you can help yourself handle the stress of being a parent with a disability is joining a support group to talk with other parents who face the same struggles. It will help you realize you are not alone and provide additional resources and encouragement from people who are in your position and have healthy, happy families. Talking with other people will help you combat feelings of isolation and depression, and it will give you an outlet for sharing your emotions and relieving stress.
3. Prioritize Self-Care
It may seem counterintuitive to make yourself a priority when you have a new child, but you cannot be the best parent possible if you fail to care for yourself. Practicing self-care involves taking time for yourself to exercise, relax, read, or practice mindfulness. Anything that makes you feel good, relieves stress, and relaxes you will energize you and help you handle the pressure of being a new parent.
It’s easy for parents to feel selfish or guilty if they put some of their needs first. But, mental health professionals agree that new parents need downtime for self-care because they have such a demanding job. Say yes when friends and relatives ask if they can give you a break. Use the time to take a nap, take a hot bath, or read a book (one that is not about parenting) for a few minutes. Ask your spouse to take over while you get outside for some fresh air. Allow people to drop off food for you, or ask a friend to pick up take-out for you on her way home from work.
People with disabilities can prepare their homes and their lives for parenthood by purchasing accessible baby gear, finding support, and prioritizing self-care. The more you prepare, the less stressful having a newborn will be.
Image via Pixabay by jakobking85
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.