People who live with disabilities are in some ways better prepared for parenthood than those who do not. When you have a disability, you are used to adapting to the world to make it work for your needs. Adaptability is a key parenting trait — without it, you’re more likely to miss the curveballs children tend to throw at you.
While parents with disabilities do have advanced adaptability as their advantage, there are some disadvantages to their situation. Many parents with disabilities have to deal with mobility issues. Slip and falls are risky enough as is; when you’re holding a baby in your arms, that risk is insurmountable. That’s why it’s important to make additional modifications around the home to prevent mobility issues as well as falls. Furthermore, people who live with a disability are more likely to struggle financially. The median income for parents with disabilities is only $35,000, while the median income for other parents is almost double that at $65,000. This income disparity leaves people with disabilities three times more likely to live in poverty.
Preventing Injury and Adding Accessibility
Those living with a disability may already have an accessible home, but there are always additional renovations that can make life more convenient. For example, replace steps with a ramp, install skid-resistant flooring, and add automatic door openers to make it easier to get in and out of the house. While you may not think you need wider doorways, the additional space can make getting from room to room safer if you’re carrying multiple items. To widen a doorway, you have to safely cut away drywall, which may involve displacing wiring, plumbing, or ducts. Hiring a contractor to widen your doorways may be more expensive, but it is much safer.
Keep in mind that if you can’t add accessibility to your current home, you may need to invest in another. This, of course, will involve a number of important tasks, such as getting pre-approved for a home loan and searching for a home that suits your needs. If possible, contact a real estate agent who has experience with accessible housing.
Bathing a newborn is a delicate task. Parents with disabilities may find it easier if they have a washing area tailored to their needs. For instance, this mom with cerebral palsy devised a tub situated on a computer cart that can roll from the sink to the main tub. She can fill the baby’s basin with water from the sink, bathe and remove the infant, then roll the cart to the main tub to drain the dirty water.
An accessible crib is very helpful for parents who struggle to reach over the railings to reach their child. Accessible cribs open from the sides so people in wheelchairs do not have to get up to access the baby. To save space and make things easier, look for a model that also includes an accessible changing table that comes in handy while the baby is still in diapers.
Financial Preparations for Parenthood
When you decide to become a parent, you have to evaluate your finances and make room for the incoming expenses. Children are not cheap. According to a study released by the US Department of Agriculture, the average cost for a middle-income, married couple with two children is estimated to spend over $233,000 to raise a child born in 2015.
Establishing a household budget is not enough for parents — you also have to be aggressive when it comes to saving for the future. In addition to saving for retirement and higher education, it helps to be prepared with adequate insurance. Life insurance helps cover your family’s expenses should you or your spouse die, therefore no longer contributing to the household income. This will take a lot of the burden off your spouse’s shoulders in a worst-case scenario while protecting your family’s future at the same time.
While living with a disability prepares you in some ways, the journey of parenthood is always going to be challenging. If you want to make your home safer for caring for an infant, consider widening doorways while investing in equipment that adapts to your needs. Beyond accessibility in the home, people with disabilities need to be aggressive when it comes to financial preparations for parenthood. Work multiple savings plans into your budget and invest in life insurance that protects your family in a worst-case scenario.
This post was a contribution from Ashley Taylor | disabledparents.org