Guest Post by Ashley Taylor
Hi there! I’m Ashley and am the mother of two children with my husband Tom. Tom isn’t like other dads — he’s been in a wheelchair since we met. Together, we have found many ways to overcome what others think of as a disability. Please keep reading for some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
But first, I would like to offer a heartfelt congratulations on your upcoming journey into parenthood! Children are one of life’s most precious blessings. You are about to develop a closer connection not only with your unborn baby but also with yourself and your partner.
Parenthood changes our lives in many ways… and for the good. If you or your spouse are living with a disability, you might be worried about how you will balance your own self-care with caring for a child. Fear not; people of all backgrounds, abilities, and health conditions are raising happy children each and every day.
Here’s some advice for people with disabilities on how they can prepare their lives and their homes for parenthood:
Preparing Your Home
Accessibility is key, regardless of whether you’re a parent or not. Depending upon your condition, there are many different ways you can prepare your home for the arrival of your little one. For instance,you can still carry your baby in a sling, even if you use a wheelchair. As an alternative, there are even specialized baby carriers that will attach directly to your wheelchair.
You might also consider purchasing accessible furniture for your infant. Some ideas might include a wheelchair-friendly crib and baby changing table. If you’re unable to find one for sale in your area, there are also tutorials online for how to build your own.
Parenting with a disability is more common than you might realize. Luckily, there are also a variety of organisations offering support to parents. You could see if there are any local resources in your area. If not, a great place to start is DisabledParent.org.uk, an online community that offers information and peer support for disabled parents.
For women in particular, it is important to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health after giving birth. Postpartum depression is extremely common and studies have shown that its effects are felt by the entire family. Seeking social support has been proven to help lower rates of postpartum depression, making the transition into parenthood easier for you as well as your infant.
Becoming a new parent means that you have the added responsibility of providing for a small human who is currently incapable of providing for him- or herself. Before the baby arrives, try to prepare as much as possible. Take out life insurance, ensure you have health insurance to cover the entire family, and look into college savings plans. Having a baby means you must take steps to understand how to manage your money even if you can barely balance a ledger. These may not be the things you want to think about right now, but they will save you stress down the road.
Self-care is extremely important for new parents who are struggling with the stress of having a child. Although it can be tricky managing to find time for yourself when you have a new baby in the house, one of the best things you can do is care for yourself.
If you’re struggling to implement self-care into your daily routine, start small. To reduce stress, take five minutes per day to just sit and breathe deeply with your eyes closed. Invite a friend or family member over to talk (and perhaps even babysit for a short time). Do yoga or gentle stretches while keeping an eye on your little one. And perhaps most importantly of all: sleep when your baby sleeps. (You can thank me for that one later.)
Above all else, try to take it easy on yourself. Remember that there is no such thing as a “perfect” parent. People just like you are making parenthood work each and every day. You don’t have to be able-bodied or have all the answers. You just have to love your children and have faith in God that He will help you do this.
Ashley Taylor is a working mom and founder of DisabledParents.org. She dived headfirst into the world of adaptive parenting after she and her wheelchair-bound husband Tom decided to start a family, despite the protests of those who believed his disability prevented it. Today, Ashley devotes much of her free time to parental advocacy. When she isn’t blogging, Ashley can be found running her photography business or spending time with her beautiful family, which includes two healthy children.