Getting Your Home (and Yourself) Ready for Parenting With a Disability By: Ashley Taylor

Hi everyone! I am excited to say that I will be including guest blog posts on my Wholeness Simplified Blog. This week's post is by Ashley Taylor. 

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.

Getting Your Home (and Yourself) Ready for Parenting With a Disability

From the time you announced a baby was on the way, you have probably gotten all kinds of advice. Parenting advice is a dime a dozen, but the reality is that every family is unique and figuring out parenthood is a journey you and your partner must take on one day at a time. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get organized, especially when you are an expectant parent who also has a disability. Preparing your home and your life now will make it easier to adjust when the time comes.

Home modifications

Whether you use a wheelchair, have a hearing or vision impairment, or mental health needs, you have probably already learned how to adapt at home to care for yourself. Now that you will have a baby to care for, too, there are adaptations that will make baby care easier and safer. What works for you will vary, of course, depending on your situation, but these are good general guidelines.

  • Extra safety precautions - Any expectant parent should go through their home and check off childproofing basics for everything from safe sleep to keeping little ones away from hazards. Safe Kids Worldwide is a  thorough resource, and it can be a great starting point for making sure your entire home is safe. When you have a disability, you may want to take some extra safety precautions. For example, one mother who is visually impaired tells CNN how she keeps furniture pushed in front of outlets, in addition to using outlet covers, as an extra safety measure. Prevent falls by removing any flooring surface that could be a trip hazard --  worn carpeting -- and instead using non-slip rugs and mats.

  • Day-to-day care - Other simple home modifications, like installing grab bars in tubs and showers to assist with bathing, make your home safer and also make daily parenting tasks easier. For parents with visual impairment,  using textured tape or Braille labels can help with meal preparation. You can also find adaptive baby gear and furniture, such as cribs and adaptive strollers. The most important thing is to do what fits your family’s unique needs.

Check in with your emotions

Preparing for parenthood is about more than just getting your home ready. You will be better able to handle the roller coaster of emotions if you take some time to prepare yourself emotionally now. Between hormonal changes for new moms, underlying mental health conditions and the sheer enormity of parenthood, adjusting to being a parent isn’t always easy.

According to Psychology Today, birth can bring up buried grief from your past and lead to a lost sense of self. A newborn baby depends on you entirely, which makes many new parents feel vulnerable. Even with home preparation and modifications, the sense of vulnerability may be stronger for parents with disabilities. The best thing you can do is become aware of your feelings about parenthood now and be willing to ask for help. After the baby is born, watch out for signs of postpartum depression or anxiety and don’t hesitate to seek help from your health care provider.

Seek Support and Connection

Along with professional support for mental health concerns, you will also benefit tremendously from the support and help of friends, family members, and other parents. Reach out to your support network now so you know who you can turn to when you need help. Now is also a good time to reach out to parents who are in a similar situation to yours.

Websites for organizations dedicated to certain disabilities, including The National Federation of the Blind, can be a great starting point. Connecting with other parents with disabilities will give you a sense of comfort, knowing that you aren’t alone in your experiences.

So much of parenthood is instinct, and even though you won’t always know exactly what to do, that instinct kicks in when you need it. That doesn’t mean you should just wait to figure it all out, though! Seek out resources and prepare your home and your life now so you’re ready when the time comes.

If you've liked what you read and want to learn more, check out Ashley's website DisabledParents.org

photo cred: pixabay