Here is a typical situation for many new parents: They receive the news that they’re expecting, immediately sign up for parenting classes, buy and read all the parenting books they can find, and begin using the advice from those classes and books to get ready for their little one. Then, the little one arrives and they quickly realize that all their diligence hasn’t fully prepared them for the drastic changes and varied emotions that come with parenthood.
While there is no way to be completely ready for the parenting experience, planning and preparation can make a big difference in how quickly you adjust to parenthood. And if you also have a disability, it’s vital to take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and enriching experience. Here are five ways to plan and prepare when you have a disability and are expecting.
Get the Right Equipment
First, you want to plan out what equipment you will need. Some of it you will need when your baby arrives, and some of it can wait until later. Also, some conventional items will come ready to use, but if you have a physical disability, you may need to order a specialty product or make some modifications to a product when you get it. Look for items that can make everyday parenting tasks more accessible, such as a breastfeeding sling, side-opening bassinet, adaptive stroller, or swivel-base car seat.
Modify Your Home
Along with purchasing specialized equipment, you may need to make some home modifications. The key is to make your home safe and accessible for your everyday needs. For instance, if you have limited mobility and/or use an aid (wheelchair, walker, etc.), you may need to widen your doorways, remove any loose carpet and rugs, and install slip-resistant flooring and mats. Also, modifying your sinks, faucets, and cabinets can make daily tasks easier.
Look Into Resources
Knowing what equipment and modifications you need — as well as paying for them — can be a challenge. Be sure to look for resources that are available to parents with disabilities, whether it’s through grants or support services. Researching and applying for assistance is not always a quick and easy process, but it’s worthwhile if it helps you to be the best parent you can be.
Make a Plan
If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to write your will, invest in a retirement plan, and purchase life insurance. If your disability makes it difficult to qualify for traditional life insurance, consider an alternative like funeral insurance. Policy amounts are typically lower, which makes qualifying easier and premiums less expensive, and funds can be used for anything.
Get Help When You Need It
Parents without disabilities get help all the time from friends, family, and neighbors. Likewise, it’s important to get help when you have a disability. Do you need help installing threshold ramps or putting expandable hinges on your doors? Call a friend. Do you need to take a few hours for personal time? Have someone watch your little one. If you have people in your life who are willing to help you with the parenting process, take advantage of it. If you find yourself lacking energy, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a diet rich in healthy protein, fruits, and vegetables.
Love More, Worry Less
Being a new parent can be nerve-racking and, let’s face it, downright terrifying. It’s easy to worry about how you do every little task when it comes to caring for your baby. You want to be the best parent possible and make sure your baby is safe, comfortable, and thriving. But if you focus more on simply being present and loving your child, your moments together will be richer, and the details of how to care for them will naturally come as you learn their patterns and needs.
No one is completely ready for the adventures of parenting, but there are things you can do to help you adjust more quickly to the changes you’ll face. Remember to purchase or plan for what equipment you will need and to make any home modifications that will help you perform your daily tasks. Research and apply for grants and services that are available, and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for help when you need it. Finally, love more and worry less, and you’ll be better able to fully embrace the joys of parenting.
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