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How To Prepare For Life As A Disabled Parent – Guest article by Ashley Taylor

Living with a disability does not mean that you have to live a life with limitations — to include being a parent. There are approximately 4.1 million disabled parents in the United States, so it’s no surprise that there are experts and support groups ready to help you through this exciting yet somewhat intimidating time. The best time to start preparing is as soon as you find out you’re going to be a parent. By the time month number nine rolls around, you’ll feel more confident and prepared for the next phase of your life.

Make Accessibility Changes To Your Home

These changes are pertinent for the comfort and safety of both you and your child. Do them several months before the baby arrives so you have time to troubleshoot if necessary.

General Changes

It’s likely that you already have many of these, but if you don’t, you may now find them to be helpful with the parenting process.

  • Install sinks that are not as deep as standard versions so that you can have easier accessibility from a wheelchair.
  • Replace faucets with models that have extended handles and spouts and can be turned on with an electric sensor.
  • Make cooktops, stoves, countertops, light switches, and work surfaces at a comfortable height for standing or sitting.
  • Install motion sensors and timers for the lights.

New Preparations To Consider Before The Baby Arrives

  • Zero step entrances to make it easier for you to move in and out of the house with baby. Consider installing a ramp with guardrails (DIY or pre-purchased) at the entrance to your home — it can also make it easier to get the stroller and baby gear in and out of the house.
  • Wide doorways can make it easier for you to move throughout the house in wheelchair — especially if you have a stroller attachment on it. To make it easy on yourself, replace your current hinges with expandable ones. You’ll score two extra inches of space without having to make any structural changes. All you need is a screwdriver to get the job done.
  • Prevent spills with skid-resistant flooring. Linoleum and vinyl are two options that are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install while providing optimal safety. Avoid throw rugs at all costs and add heavy-duty plastic mats or runners on carpeting (especially if it’s thick and long) to prevent tripping while making it easier for you to move a wheelchair, walker, or crutches.
  • If you have problems getting around the house, set up a station on a rolling cart/table that can be wheeled around to your favourite spots to save you time on your feet. Include items such as toys, changing supplies, important personal belongings (phone, an amusement while the baby is sleeping, etc.).
  • As your child gets older, it’s just natural that he/she will want to play outdoors. Since uneven ground and grass can be a hazard for someone with a disability, install an inexpensive DIY patio made with planks that snap together like a child’s toy or paver stones. The person working on this project needs to make sure the ground is clear and levelled (very important) before beginning.
  • Secure kitchen tools such as can and bottle openers and a food processor to the counter so they’re easier to use.
  • Revamp your storage to ensure the items you’re using on a daily/weekly basis are close at hand.
  • Install a loop or lever faucet in the bathtub to make it easier to reach from a distance.
  • Purchase a specialty crib at a lower height, or save money by cutting the legs off a traditional crib and use risers.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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