Preparing for Parenthood: Tips for Parents With Disabilities by Ashley Taylor
When you have kids, your life changes forever. As much as you think you’re ready, there’s always something new to learn each day. Whether that’s knowing which nontoxic detergents to buy or which toys to avoid, becoming a parent means keeping your child’s best interests in mind. When you also have a disability, it’s critical to think about how you can prepare your home and life for parenthood.
Here are three ways to modify your home to help you take care of your children.
1. Install grab bars in tubs and showers. In the U.S., there are 4.1 million parents with disabilities. Whether you’re taking a shower or giving your kids a bath, having something to hold onto while you’re navigating slippery surfaces significantly reduces risk for harm to yourself and your child. Which grab bars are the best? Any that have a textured surface are the safest choice because they give a better grip. Texture aside, comfort should also be a top consideration. Since there are several grab bars to choose from, you will want to be sure to select one that doesn’t feel awkward for your hand.
In terms of placement, you want to have a vertical bar near the faucet (to help you adjust the water temperature) and a horizontal bar next to that, along with other flush bars surrounding the bathtub. The goal is to create a handrail that’s accessible from anywhere in or around the tub. If you plan to make this a DIY project, remember that the bars have to be attached with screws that are forced into studs behind the wall.
- Use non-slip rugs and mats and remove tripping hazards. Research shows the second-leading cause of accidental deaths worldwide are due to falls. If you don’t have a slip-resistant floor, it’s important to use rugs and mats that will stay in place as they’re used. It’s also vital to think about where they’re placed. For example, if you have stairs in your home, it’s best to not have a throw rug at the base because it can cause someone to trip or fall. Protect yourself and your family and strategically place non-slip rugs and mats throughout your house. By doing so, you create better balance for these surfaces and maintain a safer space, enabling you to care for your children wherever you need to.
You’re also going to want to remove tripping hazards, which may even include certain pieces of furniture. If there isn’t room in your basement or garage, you may need to consider putting some of these items into a storage unit. In New York, NY, the average monthly cost of renting a self-storage unit over the last six months is $92.92.
3. Label items. If you have a vision impairment and you’re used to relying on memory alone, you’re probably already familiar with how long it can take to complete tasks, particularly in the kitchen. One way to get around this is to use textured tape or braille on everything, from appliances to cabinets, to utensils and canned foods. Once you have a little one, you may not have an hour or two to prepare a meal, so it’s best to get organized and have a system in place that can become part of your regular routine. Labels also ensure your safety, especially when it comes to items like knives and hot stove burners.
While these tips won’t address all of life’s adventures as a new parent, they at least serve as a starting point. You will discover new insights everyday as a parent. Commit to a lifetime of learning and enjoy the exciting journey ahead of you.
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