Becoming a parent for the first time may be one of the most exciting and terrifying things you will ever experience. Amid sleepless nights (yes, that’s actually a thing), you will be responsible for making sure your little one survives and has everything she needs at all times. Still, any parent will tell you that the incomparable love and joy your child brings makes it more than worth it.

Making practical preparations before baby arrives can help mitigate some of the shock of new parenthood. This could include anything from making lifestyle changes to home modifications. If you have a disability, certain tasks that come with parenting could be made more challenging. Nonetheless, that doesn’t have to stop you from being an exceptional parent. If you have a disability, here are some steps you can take that will help you in the parenting process.

Modify your home

One of the first things to consider is that you want your home to be accessible. Especially if you have a physical disability, making a few home modifications will allow you to perform everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and carrying your child, safer and easier. Major modifications typically come at a high price, but there are some DIY changes you can make for just the costs of materials.

A good place to start is by widening your doorways or installing expandable hinges to make maneuvering with a mobility aid easy and safe. Zero-step entrances are also essential for safe maneuvering. Wherever there are steps, install a ramp. Not only are ramps affordable modifications that help you move around safely, they will also help with strollers, portable playards, and so on. Moreover, skid-resistant flooring—such as linoleum and vinyl—are relatively inexpensive, and they can help prevent slips.

Keep your self-care in order

Ask almost any new parent, and they will tell you that self-care is a constant battle. While caring for your child should definitely be your first priority, you must try not to forget about yourself altogether. For instance, remember to shower, brush your teeth, and fulfill other basic personal hygiene duties. Also, try your best to maintain a healthy diet and get sleep whenever you can. That way, you will have more energy to take care of your little one. Each new parent’s schedule will be unique and unpredictable, but try to figure out how to take care of yourself.

Explore resources

It’s also important to stay on top of what resources are available to you. There are numerous government and private programs out there that assist parents with disabilities by helping them obtain and pay for treatment and services. Also, there are peer support groups specifically for parents who have a disability. These groups not only provide an opportunity for community, but they can also open the door to advice and tips on parenting with a disability from others who are living it.

Enlist others to help

Sometimes, one of the hardest things to do is ask someone for help. When you’re a parent, however, that mindset must go. You must do whatever is necessary to care for your child, whether that means asking your neighbor to help you rearrange your furniture or calling your in-laws to watch the little one while you shower and do the dishes.

No matter who you are, parenting is a challenge. When you have a disability, certain tasks may take a little more effort and creativity. However, by taking some precautions, there’s no reason you can’t become the parent you’ve always wanted to be. Remember to look into making any necessary home modifications and to try to maintain your self-care routine. Find out what resources are available and take advantage of them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from others.

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