“Being a parent is a wonderful thing. It’s arguably one of the most rewarding, unpredictable, exciting, meaningful and challenging jobs of a person’s lifetime,” says Kristina Rhoades who is a long time wheelchair user with a spinal cord injury. She gives the following six tips for parenting as a wheelchair user.
“If you’re a parent who uses a wheelchair, you may not have a lot of examples in your life to learn from because you may not know another parent in the same situation. But, have no fear – they’re out there and they’re thriving while raising families.”
Keep A Scarf Handy
Kristina’s first tip for parenting is to keep a scarf handy at all times.
“Scarfs or other long pieces of strong materials are going to be your best friend for the first year or so – just make sure it’s soft and slobber-proof,” she says.
She states that scarfs can be used to help secure your baby in your lap when they are too young to sit up on their own. Scarfs can also help secure the baby when they are older and squirmy.
Kristina states a scarf can be used to get your baby off the ground when they are young. She says, “Simply wrap it around your baby’s chest when they’re on the ground and, with your strongest arm, grab the two ends so it’s snug and lift them into your lap!”
Find Supportive Equipment
Kristina says to be prepared to do your research on different baby/child equipment that will work for you. She suggests to try out the products in store rather than buying online to make sure it properly fits your needs.
Kristina gives some examples of equipment in her original post. For example, a swivel car seat, strollers with a single bar connecting the handles, and modified cribs and changing tables.
Be Flexible, But Firm On Safety
Kristina states that as a parent you will learn what rules are important to enforce. However, you will learn to pick and choose your battles and will loosen up on the things that do not really matter in the end.
“However, there are some instances where you’ll have to “stand your ground” because it’s about safety.”
Kristina says that when behaviors start to pop up, it is important that your child know that you mean business. “Your kids understand much more than you realize, so try reasoning with them, as well, and explain how some things are more challenging for a parent in a wheelchair and that you have to be a team to keep everyone safe.”
Do What Works Best For Your Family
There are times because of limited mobility that you will have to do things differently than other parents. But, Kristina states to do what works best for you, not for others.
She gives examples of having your baby’s crib in your room and even co-sleeping when they are older. If there is a changing table that is not accessible, a mother may have to change their baby and/or breastfeed them in public.
Know You Are Doing A Good Job
Kristina says that it is important to know that you are doing a good job at being a parent.
“Every parent wonders if they’re doing things right, if they’re raising healthy humans and if they have what it takes to get it all done. A parent with a disability feels that pressure even more so, because we fear there are crucial parts to parenting that we literally cannot do – and we worry that it’s having negative impacts on our children,” she says.
“If you are trying your best and loving your baby with all you have, you are giving them everything they need.”
Kristina continues by saying that your child will grow up with a unique perspective that will grow into an understanding, compassion, and willingness to help others.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Kristina’s last tip is to not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
“Whether it’s from your partner, family, friends, hired help or even finding ways for your kiddo to help out – just don’t try to do it all on your own.”
She suggests finding a support group on social media of parents who use wheelchairs so you can meet people in similar situations.
Be sure to check out Kristina’s original post!
Share these tips with a new parent!
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