Many thanks to Ashley Taylor of DisabledParents.org for this wonderful guest post!
There are over 4 million people in the United States with a disability, reports the National Council on Disability. Whether you are mobility-impaired or have a different disability, preparing for your baby and life at home as a disabled parent is one of the most important steps you can take in parenthood.
As a parent who is disabled, and depending on your level of physical and social independence, there will be times when you need help. If you don’t have a strong support system in family and friends, you can always turn to community resources for help, especially if you’re a single parent. Knowing when to ask for help, and accepting it, is one of the strongest tools you can have as a parent.
Your home may be perfect for just you and may present no obstacles for maneuverability or the completion of daily activities. But you may not have considered some simple home fixes you may need to make for your new baby.
Inside your home
Is the nursery door wide enough for your wheelchair? Is the room big enough to turn your wheelchair or mobility scooter around? Is the changing table the right height for you to work with? Are the closet shelves, dresser drawers and table tops in the nursery within comfortable, safe reach? Do you need a ramp leading up to the nursery? If you plan to keep the baby’s crib next to your bed, is your bedroom big enough? Are there special challenges that baby’s bath time will present?
It helps to go through your home with a list of things that need to be added, removed or changed. The good news is that there are cost-effective, DIY ways to make these changes.
For example, if remodeling the nursery closet to make the shelves lower is outside of your budget, you can buy accessibility tongs or “reachers” that can add up to 36 inches to your reach when needing to take something down from a shelf. If traveling to the nursery numerous times during the day or night is difficult for you, a baby monitor or camera may be a solution.
Accessible furniture, like low, differently designed cribs, baby carriers that attach to a wheelchair and slings for carrying babies, is a great, cost-effective way to make parenting easier. HomeAdvisor also has a great guide for home modifications to make parenting with a disability easier too.
Now let’s move to the outside of your home.
Outside your home
Getting to the door with a baby and some full shopping bags can be a challenge for anyone, so when considering safety and convenience outside of the home, have these things in mind:
1. Good lighting.
2. Clear, clean path to all entrances.
3. De-iced walks and ramps in winter.
4. Table, shelf or chair near the door to set down packages (not the baby).
5. Make sure house number and/or mail box number is visible to emergency vehicles.
Do you need to remodel? Build a nursery? Or, relocate to a bigger home with better accessibility? There are many ways to receive government and private grants for home improvements.
Parenting is one of the most challenging but rewarding undertakings in our lives. But if you’re a parent with a disability who needs assistance, or has a question, help is usually only a phone call away. Parenting classes, support groups and in-home support via community programs are valuable resources, and there are professionals (as well as disabled parents) standing by to help you.
Parents come in all packages. The key to good parenting is preparation and doing your best for your children.
All content © 2018 Inspire Santé, NFP