Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Guest Post: Preparing Your Home for Parenthood When You Live with a Disability

Nesting is the act of preparing one’s home for the arrival of a new baby or child. Typically, nesting involves things such as painting a nursery, buying a crib, baby-proofing the house, and making sure everything is as clean as possible as the due date approaches. However, when you are a parent living with a disability, your nesting process is generally more intense.

Beyond the normal nesting practices, parents with disabilities need to make adjustments that accomodate their special needs and improve mobility around the house while caring for a child. You may have some of the necessary modifications already in place. However, some of the things you may have previously found unnecessary can be really helpful when you have a newborn, infant, or toddler around.


Modifications for Mobility

Parenting when you have mobility difficulties-- whether you use a wheelchair, cane, or you simply have to move more slowly for safety-- can be daunting. However, there are tons of options that can make childcare easier for you. Parents in wheelchairs can acquire specialty cribs, changing tables, and more that are low enough for you to access so you don’t miss out on crucial bonding activities like changing diapers and putting your child to sleep.

If you don’t already have ramps over stairs, installing them before your child comes can be incredibly helpful even if you do not use a chair. If you have any kind of mobility issue, navigating tricky steps when your arms are full with an infant can be needlessly hazardous. Non-slip ramps make the process simpler and safer. It’s also imperative to do a thorough check throughout the house and remove any tripping hazards that may present themselves. Even innocuous-seeming items like coffee tables and rugs pose a risk-- it may be worth it to get rid of these things or even just store them somewhere else while you get through your first years of parenting.

Modifications for Visual Impairment

About 1.3 million people in the United States are considered legally blind-- that is, they have a central visual acuity of 20/20 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction. If you are one of these millions, there are several things you can do around the house to help with childcare. Decorating and furnishing your nursery with items that have unique textures can help when it comes to finding what you need when you need it. It can also help to label your child’s food and formula with textured tape or braille labels to make meal preparation easier.

If you are legally blind but still retain some sight when using correction, make sure your house is properly lit throughout every room. If you are wary of sky-high electric bills, a better option is adding windows and skylights to your home if you own your property. If you are worried about the cost of such renovations, you can apply for various grants that provide funds to those with disabilities looking to renovate their home for better accessibility. When finding a contractor to help with these renovations, be sure to bring in multiple professionals to get quotes. Also talk to your neighbors and friends for recommendations on honest contractors and companies to ensure you don’t get scammed by someone looking to take advantage of the needs of a disabled parent.

All parents go through a nesting stage where they prepare their home for the arrival of a new baby. When you are a parent with a disability, you go through that same nesting phase, but there may be additional work for you to do depending on your needs. There are specialty products such as cribs and changing tables that allow parents who use wheelchairs to participate in bonding activities such as bedtime and diaper changing. Reducing tripping hazards like ru
gs and coffee tables and putting ramps over stairs can also help a lot, especially as the baby grows and you have to chase a toddler around. For those with a visual impairment, working with texture is a great way to help you find what your baby needs. Finally, renovating your house to add extra light with windows and skylights is a great way to improve visibility without hiking up power bills with extra lamps.

Ashley Taylor, of disabledparents.org, and her husband both have disabilities and knew that parenting would require extra planning and preparation. Through their experience they have gained expertise in what may be required to help others prepare their lives and homes for parenthood. 


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