By Ashley Taylor, guest author
You’ve heard it a million times by now: having a child changes everything. But only fellow parents can really understand the truths in this saying. If you are bringing a child into your life, whether through adoption or birth, you’ll need to take some time to really prepare for these changes. If you are also living with a disability, you may need to tweak some common parenting advice, but the level of planning needed is still the same. From one parent to another, here are some ways you can help make bringing your baby home a smoother adventure.
Taking care of a child is hard work and you’ll want to be sure you are up for the challenge. Check in with your body, your mind and your soul to create some balance before your bring your child into your world. Make sure you are mentally prepared for the new concerns and challenges but know that you’ll still be anxious and you’ll still be stressed. Parents feel this way, especially with their first child, but it’s important to find ways to relieve any worried feelings. Develop some healthy self-care routines now and try to maintain them when you become a parent. Make sure to stay hydrated, and to your best to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Work on Your Finances
Whether adopting a child or having a baby, bringing a child into your life also means bringing additional expenses into your budget. You’ll need to immediately factor in initial costs, like legal fees for adoption, expenses related to fertility treatment and/or co-pays for prenatal care. Leave enough room in your budget for continued costs to make sure you can take care of any financial needs for you and your growing family. Be aware of any changes you need to make to benefits or insurance plans and take care of those promptly to avoid any costly surprises.
Arranging Your Home
You may already have your home set up for everyday accessibility for yourself but you’ll want to think about extra modifications for a child. Create a basic prep checklist and add items that may be helpful for you. Consider installing grab bars in tubs and showers to make bath time easier. You’ll also want to check for any common household hazards including sharp cabinet corners or uncovered electrical outlets and ensure that flooring such as mats and rugs are non-slip. Even simple steps such as labeling your child’s food and care items with textured tape or Braille labels can make a world of difference when you finally bring your baby home.
Building Your Village
When it comes to raising a child, we all need a little help from time to time, whether it’s from doctors, other professionals or fellow parents. Take some time to build a network of trusted professionals to help care for your child. You’ll want to have appointments set up with a pediatrician right away and keep a regular check-up schedule. If you know you’ll need child care, do some research to find the best option for you and don’t underestimate the value of support groups and fellow parents. Whether online or in-person, you can find advice and help with everything from breastfeeding to potty training, but don’t feel like there’s only one way to parent. Make choices that work for you, and your family, and reach out when you need help.
Ask any parent and they will tell you that your kids will be grown up before you know it. It won’t be long before play dates and pre-school will be replaced with graduation and adulthood, so be prepared, be aware, but above all, be present for the joys of being a parent. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to raise a child. With a little planning, some patience and a lot of love, you will have all the resources you need to be a great parent. Congratulations and good luck with this amazing adventure.
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn't working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.