In many ways, parenting when you have a disability isn’t all that different than parenting when you don’t have one. It may mean making some adaptations, but all parents have to make changes to prepare their homes and lives for a new baby. Getting ready involves baby proofing and setting up the necessities, but there are also less obvious things you can do that help make the transition to parenthood as smooth as possible.
Consult a complete safety checklist, like this one from Babycenter, and go through your home now to check off any modifications you need to make. Some of the primary safety issues to keep in mind are: sharp edges and corners, covers for all electrical outlets, and locks for all cabinets. A good safety monitor is also crucial and can make life with a new baby easier, especially with features like video and smartphone compatibility. If you have a physical disability, a monitor can give you peace of mind while eliminating extra trips to check on baby.
Small Details Matter
Beyond the safety basics, there are other small ways you can prepare your home and life for baby. Start by thinking about your lifestyle when setting up the necessities, like baby’s room, where they’ll sleep, where they’ll play and where they’ll get diaper changes. If you simply go down a standard baby registry checklist, you may end up with a setup that doesn’t work for you. For example, a crib may seem like the obvious choice for sleep, but using a bedside sleeper that attaches to your bed may be more accessible and comfortable.
The same thing goes for everyday baby care like diaper changes. Many parents find that having a setup for mobile changes is ideal so you don’t have to run to another room all the time (and it sure feels like all the time in the beginning!). Fill a medium sized portable bag with changing necessities and get extra changing pads so you can do a quick diaper change on the floor, rather than being limited to a changing table.
Once you have the big things done, you may go into nesting mode to get the small details ready. Plan ahead for meals by stocking your pantry and making some meals you can freeze and heat easily later. Along the same lines, reduce anxiety once baby is here by cleaning thoroughly and organizing your home before the birth.
Get Ready for Life with a Little One
Even if you plan and prepare your home perfectly, adjusting to life with a newborn can be stressful and exhausting. Expecting some stress and thinking about how you’re going to handle it is just as important to the planning process as getting your home ready. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget with the demands of a new baby: you have to take care of yourself. Getting good nutrition, plenty of water, and sleeping when the baby sleeps are all part of basic self-care. Besides the basics, prioritize taking time for yourself to do something you love. Save some resources now, like this list of ideas from Psychology Today, as a quick go-to for when you’re in the midst of a stressful day.
For many parents, having support and a regular group they can attend with baby is a lifesaver in the early days, but you may be in too much of a haze to search one out. Look for some groups and parenting activities in your area now so you’ll know where to turn for support when the time comes. These groups could be general mommy- or daddy-and-me playgroups, but you may also benefit from finding a community of other parents who have disabilities.
From the big decisions to minor details, getting your home and your life ready for a baby involves a lot of changes. By thinking about these details now, you will be better prepared to care for and bond with your baby with less stress. When stress does set in, just remember that you can’t be a good parent without caring for yourself too.
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Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms -- from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.