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I dreamed all my life about becoming a mom, but when actually faced with parenthood, I was terrified. When you’re a parent with a disability, meeting your unique challenges is a daunting proposition. However with some thoughtful preparations, I found you can navigate your journey the same as everyone else—one day at a time.
Safety first. One of the preparations that gave me peace was preparing my home for my baby. It’s one thing to live with a disability, but once you’re dealing with feedings and diaper changes, exhausted and frazzled from too little sleep, you want all the advantages you can find. By making home modifications for better accessibility, I improved my navigation and eased some of my burden. Besides, knowing my home would support my parenting challenges made me feel more confident. Here are some of the basics which I think are especially helpful.
Bathroom. Bathrooms can be dangerous with the combination of slippery surfaces, soap, and water. Adding non-slip flooring is a big help, along with grab bars and lever-style faucet handles. Raised toilet seats can improve accessibility, along with replacing the tub with a shower. If you use a wheelchair, you also might like removing your vanity and replacing the sink with a wall-mounted option. Another suggestion is to install anti-scald devices on your faucets to prevent the water from becoming too hot.
Main living areas. Loose carpeting is a tripping and slipping hazard, and if you use a wheelchair, it can catch in the wheels. Make sure it’s secure or remove it. Also, consider replacing your door knobs with lever-style handles. Door knobs can be difficult for a wheelchair-bound person to turn, but a lever you can easily push them down. Some professionals also suggest installing child-proof latches on cupboards and outlet covers. Another important consideration is to secure your television so your baby can’t topple it, along with other large furniture items such as bookshelves and cabinets. If your furniture, fireplace, or walls have sharp corners, install padding so your little one doesn’t get hurt on them. Invest in some child gates to keep your youngster corralled; even though your baby won’t be mobile right away, that day will be here before you know it!
Kitchen. Chances are when you’re working in the kitchen, you’ll be distracted, and
hot objects can quickly become dangerous to babies, so the kitchen is another important area to prepare. Even with child-proof locks, you will want to take extra precautions for certain items. Parents recommends organizing your drawers and cabinets so that choking and suffocation hazards like plastic bags and spices are well out of reach, and putting poisons and chemicals in secure areas.
Other ideas. There are other steps I took to prepare for my baby’s arrival which gave me great peace of mind. One of the best things I did was take the advice of Healthy Children, and I found a wonderful pediatrician ahead of time. Another idea is to create a laminated list of your emergency phone numbers; include the area hospitals, emergency services, and your family and friends that you or a babysitter may need to connect with should an issue arise. And lastly, my other wonderful discovery is Wonder of Learning. Wonder of Learning, or WOLO, is essentially a one-stop shop for your child's leisure activities, so it offers needed convenience for families strapped for time.
Prepared and confident. You’ll enjoy great peace of mind by making some simple arrangements before your baby arrives. Ensure your home is safe and accessible, and plan out a handful of simple but important resources. Once your little one arrives, you’ll realize how much these steps helped with preparing for parenthood!