Guest blog by Ashley Taylor disabledparents.org
Parenting is filled with unexpected challenges. This can be truer when you are a parent with a disability. Thankfully, with the right modifications to your life and home, you can be prepared for whatever parenthood throws at you.
Make Your Home Easily Accessible
Going up and down stairs is difficult enough when you’re laden down with baby bags, strollers, and groceries. Make your life easier by ensuring you have at least one zero-step entrance to get into your house, especially if you have a physical disability. Installing a ramp will help you get in and out of the house faster and safer.
If you use a wheelchair and have narrow doorways, look into expandable door hinges. These are an affordable (and DIY) way to expand the entrance without breaking the bank.
Baby Proof the Home
You probably already know the basics of baby proofing such as locking cabinets and blocking electrical outlets, but there is more you can do to make you and your home safer particularly if you have a mobility issue.
Babies love to be held and carried. It is a good idea to invest in skid-resistant flooring to keep you from slipping. This is important for not only your safety but your child’s too. Likewise, kids will play anywhere and everywhere. To be able to get to them when needed, rearrange furniture ahead of time so that you have enough room to easily maneuver around when necessary.
Do not forget put up baby gates to keep them from accidentally falling down stairs or getting into rooms they shouldn’t be in. Having baby gates up will help give you a piece of mind if you need to take your eye off them for a minute and worry about not being able to reach them in a timely manner.
Search Out Modified Baby Gear
There are many great tools to help parents, and many of them have modifications to help parents with disabilities, such as a wheelchair friendly stroller or baby babble band for the hearing disabled. Disabledparents.org is a great resource for finding modified tech for a range of disabilities.
Look for gear that will work for you. There are a variety of cribs that can fit your needs, from a front open crib to ones that will fit a height that works for you. If you are nervous about being able to hold your child for extended amounts of time, consider a modified sling. Bathtime can also be made easier. There is a large variety of bathtubs designed for parents with disabilities.
Be Open With Your Child
Kids are curious creatures. As your child grows they will probably start to ask a lot of questions about your disability. Be open with them. This will help them understand any limitations you might have or know what may unintentionally cause physical pain. Being honest will also teach them to be more caring and patient with others.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Being a parent can be physically and emotionally draining. Any parent should enlist in family and friends for support. Do not be afraid to ask for help with meals, bathtime, babysitting, or whatever else you need. No one can do it all and no one expects you to.
Be sure to take advantage of babysitting offers to take some time for yourself. Go on a date night with your partner or get out of the house and do something you enjoy. Stepping away will give you a chance to breathe and relieve some of the stress of parenting. You deserve it.
Ups and Downs
Your disability should not prevent you from the joys of parenting. Yes, you will make mistakes and stumble along the way, but so does everyone. And remember, there is no one size fits all for parenting. Do not be afraid to try out different things until you find what best fits your needs.
Written by Ashley Taylor disabledparents.org
Photo courtesy of Pexels.
You’re in charge of another human life. That’s a great responsibility, and along with it comes a huge number of tasks that have flooded your hectic schedule, from feeding your child to changing their diaper to singing them to sleep. There’s little time left over for you, so watching over your own well-being has been put aside until you can get a moment to yourself.
That’s a mistake, as you need to be healthy and strong to fulfill the greatest role you’ve ever taken on, and that’s impossible without a large dose of self-care, which includes eating right, getting some rest, and relieving stress when you can. The only question is how to fit it in. Here are some suggestions that’ll help you achieve that goal.
Cook Meals Quickly
Although you may think it takes hours slaving over a hot stove, dinner can be done in a matter of 15 minutes if you’re efficient. It all starts with some mental preparation and imagining what you’re going to make step by step, says a culinary expert with The Kitchn. Before doing that, preheat the oven and put water on to boil if you need to. When you’re finished, you’ll have a healthy meal ready without spending too much time away from the little one.
Outsource Some Chores
A time will come when you simply can’t get everything done. Don’t feel bad. You’re not a superhero; there’s nothing wrong with calling a cleaner, even on a regular basis. It usually costs between $100 and $200 a visit to get your house looking spic and span without lifting a finger.
Meditate in Your Car
It doesn’t seem like the ideal place as it’s nearly impossible to get yourself into the lotus position here. However, you have no time for ideals, so take advantage of the peace and quiet after coming home from work or shopping before you enter the noisy home. The bathroom is another place where you can take a few moments for yourself.
Exercise at Home
Getting to the gym is tricky, but there are exercises to do right at home when you have a moment to yourself, and they work wonders at keeping you trim if you stick to a regular routine. A writer with Oprah.com recommends squats, incline push-ups, hip raises, and planks, among others, none of which require any equipment at all.
Put on Some Music
With an infant or toddler in the house, you have to be careful with the volume, as you don’t want to wake them during a nap or, worse yet, not hear them when things go pear-shaped. However, a few tunes while you’re doing the laundry or washing the dishes would do wonders to lift your spirits during a particularly hectic day, so have at it.
Emote in a Journal
Sometimes you need to let it all out, but screaming isn’t appropriate, as you would frighten the little one and make the neighbors wonder what’s going on next door. Expressing your emotions through writing is as quiet as it gets, so pull out a notebook and pencil and let the words flow out like water from a faucet. It’s very cathartic.
Take a Hot Bath
The spa is a popular destination for well-being devotees, as it relaxes the muscles and the mind. Although you can make it there once in a while, it’s unlikely to be a regular thing. You can give yourself similar treatment at home in your bathtub with some hot water and lavender oil. That’ll help you soak your stress away.
Call a Friend
There’s something about the comfort their words offer when you’re feeling low. Well, that connection you share has been scientifically linked to better physical and emotional health, and your friend’s voice may even trigger the release of oxytocin, a neurochemical linked to bonding and happiness. That’ll make you feel better and give you a boost of energy to carry on.
Remember, your well-being shouldn’t take a backseat to that of your child as the two are too tightly linked. Look after yourself and stay strong. That’s the best thing for both of you.
Image via Pixabay
Written by Alexis Hall firstname.lastname@example.org Singleparent.info
Heading on an adventure soon? Dreading the thought of getting to your destination safely, with all people, belongings, and your humor intact? Try these tips, tricks, and resources to up your chances of smoother sailing.
Label the Kids
Especially if you’ve got curious toddlers and young elementary-aged kids, consider writing your contact info on their arms so that if they wander of, it’ll be easier for people to find you and reunite you. You can also attach a GPS device — like a watch — to your child’s wrist and track them with an app on your smartphone.
Carriage, Stroller, or Sling?
Lightweight umbrella strollers fold up easily, provide a sport for impromptu naps, and do well on most terrains. They’re easier to maneuver through airports and perfect for hauling packages if the little one can walk a while. Larger carriages take up lots of space — and you have to check them when flying — but they might be welcome if you have multiple young kids who tire easily. If you travel regularly, consider investing in a travel stroller. Slings work great for small babies (and lighter toddlers) if you wear them regularly.
When you’re taking a plane, research the rules (and costs) of carry-on luggage. Diaper bags count as carry-ons, so pack judiciously. Depending on your little one’s age, make sure to have a bottle (or suckable candy) ready for take-offs and landings to help relieve ear pressure.
Your in-flight entertainment packing list should include:
First Time Flying?
Airports are busy places teeming with activity. Do a practice run if you’re close to an airport. Explore the airport with your kids and watch planes take off and land. Visit a smaller, local airstrip and talk to the pilots. Many are retired airline pilots who love to share their passion with curious visitors.
Many airlines allow — and encourage — flyers to check in online or early. This method streamlines the amount of time you and your family must spend standing in line. When you get to the airport, you’ll just need to go through security and check your bags. Some airports have play areas; arrive early to let kids enjoy them so they’re less wiggly on the flight.
Where to Sit on a Plane
If your flight time is flexible, aim for night-time or nap time flights — a sleeping child’s much easier to “entertain.” Choosing seats further back in the plane puts you closer to the bathrooms and galley, where stewards and stewardesses may not mind if your little one works off some steam when it’s safe. The plane’s middle section often has more leg room for playing; some aircraft have baby cradles, but you’ll sacrifice under-seat storage.
Keeping Toys (Relatively) Germ-Free When You Travel
Most experts say that the general rule of thumb for keeping toys germ-free is to clean them about once a month — more frequently if your kiddo’s been ill or recovering from an illness. You don’t have to take such drastic steps as the boy’s mom in the Velveteen Rabbit, but do wipe down germy toys with disinfectant wipes. When you travel, pack disinfectant wet wipes to give toys a quick scrub.
Adding kids to your family doesn’t have to crimp your sense of adventure! Traveling teaches them so many things, including flexibility! Children’s curiosity and lack of prejudice makes them more open-minded and accepting of other cultures. If you love traveling, introduce your kids to your wanderlust and bring them along for the ride, too!
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Written by Alexis Hall email@example.com Singleparent.info
Ready, Set, Parent!
When they say having a baby changes everything, they aren’t exaggerating. Whoever they are, their words of wisdom fail to offer practical advice on preparing for the joyous occasion. But they aren’t us, and we have tips and tricks on how to get yourself and your home ready for 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes, and one tiny person who will soon steal your heart.
Your first challenge is to get your home together in a way that will help you streamline your parenting efforts. This is especially important in the first weeks and months, as sleep becomes a luxury, and the vast majority of your time and attention will be on getting to know your new baby. Start in your child’s room. As HomeAdvisor explains, you’ll be spending a great deal of time there, and you want to make sure the space is multifunctional. Consider adding the crib that will convert to a larger bed as your baby grows. You’ll also want a comfortable area where you can sit and rock your baby back to sleep and enjoy a good book together when they are old enough to sit in your lap.
Spend an afternoon or two baby-proofing your home. While your little one won’t do much independently until about seven months of age, those months will go by quickly, and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that safety hazards have been accounted for. Baby Center offers this childproofing checklist to get you started.
Schedule (what schedule?)
You’ll hear lots of advice that promotes everything from sleep training to insisting your child must be potty trained by 18 months old. Forget all of it. If there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that your baby has needs and those needs – love, food, sleep -- won’t follow a traditional 24-hour clock. If you want to create a schedule that works for you and your family, you’ll need to learn how to read your baby’s cues and cries to determine a general timeline of his wants and needs. Be prepared, however, for everything to change with each growth spurt, and there are many! Flexibility is the key here, so while it’s perfectly fine to hope for a routine, you must be prepared to let some things go.
Gather your village
There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. This is as true today as it’s ever been. Your village is simply the people that you install into your child’s life before and after their arrival. This may include a spouse or partner, grandparents, siblings, and child care provider. You will also need to pick a pediatrician and a birthing team. You might also consider hiring a doula for both labor and postpartum to give you peace of mind that you will have expert help and guidance to care for your new little one. It is helpful to establish a network of other new moms as well. Your “mom friends” will be there with you as your figure out life as a first-time mother. For more on breaking the ice and meeting other new parents, check out this (all-too-real) article by Scary Mommy that accurately likens the mom-friend-making process to dating.
A side note for singles
Single moms are no longer considered the social pariah as they were in our grandparents’ day. In fact, approximately 25 percent of children in the United States are raised by a single mom. Although it may be difficult, there are plenty of benefits that go along with solo parenting. Working Mother asserts that children raised in a one-parent household are likely to develop certain qualities ahead of their two-parent peers. Perhaps most relevant to today is that single-parent homes offer an enlightened view of gender roles and can help you raise children who are more aware of alternative family lifestyles.
It doesn’t matter if you’re raising your child alone or in a traditional family setting: having your first baby is an exciting time, but one full of uncertainties. The most important thing you can do is trust your instincts and learn to read your baby’s needs as they arise.
Written by Alexis Hall firstname.lastname@example.org Singleparent.info
Sure, you have read the books, and taken a childbirth education class. You have heard stories from friends and relatives about their births. Your partner is very supportive and will be by your side the whole way. Maybe you have even been through it all a time or two before. That is all really beneficial when preparing for birth, but every birth is different, and having someone to guide and support you along the way makes a huge difference.
Having a doula is like having a wedding coordinator. Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, and it takes a lot of preparation. There are so many decisions to be made it can get a little overwhelming. A wedding coordinator is familiar with all the venues, knows what different officiates have to offer, can help you plan your ceremony, can advise you on what flowers will give you the look you are going for, and can help you understand the etiquette for a ceremony and reception. On the big day, she is there to help things go smoothly, calm your nerves, and help you roll with the punches if there is a hitch in the plans. All of this while keeping the focus on you and your partner, and never judging you for your choices.
Likewise, pregnancy and birth can be full of decisions that can get a little overwhelming, and the day your child is born is a day you will always remember. A doula is familiar with the hospitals in your area, knows what the different O.B.s have to offer, can help you prepare your birth plan, can advise on what birthing options will help you have the birth you desire, and help you to understand what to expect during your pregnancy and birth. On the big day, she is there to support you, offer pain relieving techniques, and think through your options if things don't go as planned. All of this while keeping the focus on you and your partner, and never judging you for your choices.
In both scenarios, it is possible for you and your partner to do it all on your own and still have a wonderful and memorable day. However, having that support and guidance goes a long way to reducing stress and discomfort. Knowing you have someone there who is focused on your needs, no matter what, is priceless.
You may be thinking, “That all makes sense, but my partner really wanted to be the one to help me.” A doula doesn't replance your partner, but instead can show your partner ways to support you they might not have considered,and help them to be as involved or hand off as they want to be. She can also give your partner peace of mind that you will never be left alone if they have to leave the room for any reason. Seeing someone you love in pain can be troubling at times, especially if you didn't know quite what to expect. Having a doula there reassuring them that everything is normal, can be a real comfort to your partner.
Overall, hiring a doula for your birth is one of the best decisions you can make. No one will be able to support you quite like this trained professional. She is completely dedicated to helping your birth to be an empowering and beautiful experience that you will always remember
You probably went into labor knowing it would be taxing and painful, and you planned for it in the months leading up to the big day. Unfortunately, you probably didn't get a lot of information on the physical recovery after birth. Most women know that their bodies will be different than before, but they’ve also bombarded by ads for "101 ways to get your pre-baby body back”; so, recovery is often trivialized to just getting back into your skinny jeans. You may not be prepared to see that your belly still looks four or five months pregnant, or that you are sore in places you didn’t expect. You may be dealing with a healing tear or episiotomy, or even a cesarean incision that you hadn’t planned on. You may be surprised by the fatigue that can last for the next couple of weeks and may be discouraged by the limitations it causes. Caring for a newborn means a lack of sleep for both parents that leads to further fatigue. You may even push yourself too hard and do too much, which will only prolong the recovery process and can even lead to illness.
Too further complicate things, it is common for people to want to visit when a baby is born. If these visitors are helpful, it can be a good thing, but often they are there to hold the baby and little else. You may feel the need to play hostess, when you are the one that need to be cared for. All these things can complicate your physical recovery.
So, what can you do about it?
“Please place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need your assistance."
If you have ever flown, you have heard these instructions. The idea of helping myself before helping others goes against my grain. It probably goes against the grain of a lot of people, or they wouldn’t need to say this.
It is important to put your mask on first though, because if you lose consciousness, you won’t be any good to anyone.
The idea carries over into everyday life too. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so you need to refill your own cup before you can pour into others.
It makes perfect sense.
I still struggle with it.
As children, we are taught to think of others first, and this is a good thing. The world is a better place when we think of others first. The problem comes when we stop thinking of ourselves at all. As moms, we tend to slowly stop taking care of ourselves in favor of taking care of our families.
As soon as we find out we are pregnant, we start sacrificing for our kids.
We endure nausea, backaches, swollen ankles, and various other discomforts. We give up sushi, coffee, and lunchmeats. If we get a cold we suffer through without the Nyquil rather than risk the health of our little passengers. We lose sleep and we worry. We tolerate being poked, prodded, and tested all to make sure our babies are healthy.
When it’s time for the birth, we go through hours of pain, needles, strangers up in our business, and sometimes even surgery to bring our babies safely into the world.
Once they’re here, we go through sore, leaky nipples, and sleepless night, and spend hours doing research all to make sure we are doing the best job possible in raising these little ones.
We make sure our kids have nice new clothes and clean hair, even if we haven’t showered in days and are wearing thrift store jeans and an old T-shirt
Of course, some of this is hard to fix. If finances are tight it is hard to justify or even afford that nice outfit for ourselves. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get a shower in or style our hair. There will be seasons where self-care is harder than at other times. That doesn’t mean we must give it up all together though. It is a matter of making it a priority.
I have learned that I am a better wife and mom when my needs are met as well, but I still struggle to do things for me. I am always worried about being selfish.
I can’t emphasize this enough:
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF IS NOT BEING SELFISH!!!
We would all be better moms, wives, friends, employees, and bosses if we took better care of ourselves. It is ok to take time out for us. Here’s just a few ideas:
Sometimes it is just a matter of mindset. Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself, is sometimes half the battle.
One of the most common questions about breastfeeding is, “How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?”
First, let’s look at what your baby’s needs are. In the womb, babies never feel hungry. The get all the nutrition they need from you. A newborn’s stomach can hold about 5-10ml and does not stretch. Anything more than this will come right back up. During pregnancy, your body started producing colostrum, and this is all your newborn really needs right now. Since they can only take so little, babies need to eat often, which can make it seem like they are not getting enough. Every few days, your baby’s stomach expands to hold a little more and it will seem like they are always hungry! These frequent feedings are how your baby transitions from being constantly nourished in the womb to life in the outside world. They are also helping build your milk supply. Hang in there if you can, it does get easier!
So how can you be sure that your baby’s nutritional needs really are being met? A hungry baby will give you feeding cues such as fussing, rooting, or putting his hand to his mouth. Feeding your baby when you notice these cues and before he becomes distressed and crying, will make it easier to get a good latch and much less stressful for you and your baby. After the first week, your baby should be feeding 8 or more times per day with 10 minutes or more of active suckling. It is also helpful to keep track of how many diapers you are changing a day. In the first week of life, the number of wet and dirty diapers will slowly increase. You can expect about one more wet diaper for each day of life for the first week. Very absorbent diapers can make it hard to tell how many times your baby has actually urinated though. Your baby’s stools are much easier to keep track of. After the first week, your baby should be having 3-4 or more stools about the size of a quarter. These are all good indicators that your baby is getting what he needs, but the most important thing is that your baby is gaining weight. It is normal for a baby to lose a small amount of weight in the first few days of life, reaching their lowest weight on day 3 or 4. The average weight gain for an exclusively breastfed baby is around 7-8 oz each week. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendations for when to bring in your newborn to check for weight gain and other developmental milestones.
If your baby is not gaining weight as he should, you can contact a lactation specialist to help find solutions for breastfeeding problems, or you can consider supplementing with formula. The most important thing is that your baby is fed, and that you do what feels right for you and your family.
This blog is just a quick summary. For more detailed information, I recommend the book, “Breastfeeding Made Simple” by Nancy Mohrbacher. You can also get more guidance from a lactation consultant, or contact Hava Doula to set up postpartum care.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It seemed so simple and natural. I never even considered that there was anything complicated about it. When it came time to feed my sweet baby girl for the first time, I brought her to my breast expecting that we would both just know what to do. Boy was I wrong! She couldn’t latch, and I had no idea how to help her. The nurse came in and grabbed my boob, squished it and kind of shoved my daughters mouth onto it. I was mortified! At least she was nursing, but it felt awkward and strange, and not at all like I thought it would. When I got home, I struggled to get a good latch, and the only example I had was what the nurse had “shown” me.
Unfortunately, this is the experience many women have. They are told that “breast is best”, they get a very basic intro to a proper latch and then are left on their own to struggle. They deal with sore nipples, a fussy baby, and worry that their baby isn’t getting enough milk. Often, women will feel guilty when breastfeeding doesn’t work out, and they decide to give their baby a bottle. They may even have friends and loved ones that contribute to this guilt, by insisting that breastfeeding is better for the baby.
It shouldn’t be like that. First, whether a woman chooses to breastfeed or bottle feed, she should be supported in doing what she feels is best for her child. No one else can make that decision for her. Second, if she does chose to breastfeed, she should have the proper support and education. Labor and delivery nurses are amazing people, but they don’t always have much training in breastfeeding support. The help of a lactation consultant or even a postpartum doula, can make the difference for so many women. There are a variety of ways to get a proper latch, and what works for one mother and child may not work for another.
Sometimes getting a good latch is just a matter of changing positions. Most women start out using the cradle hold, because this is the one we see most often in pictures or on TV. The baby’s head is supported in the bend of the mother’s arm on the same side as the breast they are nursing from. The mother uses her other hand to guide her breast into the baby’s mouth. This is a comfortable and effective hold, but usually works better after breastfeeding has already been established. Some positions that may be better for beginners are:
The cross-cradle hold: This is a variation where the baby’s head is supported across the mother’s body with the opposite hand from the breast they are nursing from. The mother uses the hand on the same side to guide her breast to the baby’s mouth. This hold gives the mother more control of her baby’s head, and makes it easier to guide the baby into a proper latch.
Laid back: The mother is in a semi reclined position with the baby tummy down on her chest. This position allows the baby’s weight to be supported by the mother’s body. The mother can use one hand to support the baby and the other to guide her breast into the baby’s mouth. The baby can be straight up and down, across, or diagonal across the mother’s body.
Football hold: In this position, the mother has the baby against the side of her body and supported by the arm on that side, with the baby’s head in her hand. The baby’s head is then lined up with the breast on the same side while the mother guides the breast to the baby’s mouth with the opposite hand.
I have heard it time and again; “I want to hire you, but I have to talk my husband into it”. Here’s a few answers to some of the misconceptions that make men hesitant to hire a doula.
“I want to be the one to support my wife.”
Just because the doula is there for support, doesn’t mean you won’t have a role in the birth of your child. The doula has knowledge of comfort techniques to help reduce the pain of childbirth. She is an expert at using these techniques, but she can teach you to use them as well. She can show you how to find the correct hand position, and how to follow your wife’s cues for how much pressure and when to start and stop. Some women benefit from a couple of different pressure points being used at once, and you need a team to do that. Sometimes though, a woman just feels like her doula is better at a hip squeeze. Don’t despair dads! She still needs you there. You can encourage her and coach her breathing, you can make sure she is drinking enough water, or you can just hold her hand and stroke her hair. Your presence and support is extremely important no matter how it is given.
“It’s a lot of money for something I can do myself.”
True, a doula is a big investment, but the service she offers is priceless. Your wife will need a lot of support during labor and delivery. Even if this isn’t her first child, every birth is different and experience doesn’t make it that much easier. A doula is an expert in supporting women in birth. They are trained and knowledgeable while also being objective and not emotionally involved. Seeing your wife enduring the pain and effort of birth can be very stressful, and without training it can be overwhelming at times. Another thing to remember is, you can’t be in two places at once. Birth can last for several hours, and during that time, you are inevitably going to need to use the restroom, get something to eat or drink, or make phone calls to family members. It is a lot to take on alone, and you will find that having an extra set of hands, expert advice, and constant backup is worth every penny.
“I don’t really think we are going to need that much help.”
Birth is hard, very hard. It has been compared to running a marathon or climbing Mt. Everest. Not only does it involve pain and tremendous physical effort, but it can be emotionally taxing as well. You might think that is all just for the woman giving birth, but it goes for her support people as well. It is kind of a given that the mom is going to need support, but the partner’s need support too. You don’t always understand what is happening, sometimes what you thought would help doesn’t, and sometimes it all affects you more than you thought it would. If this isn’t your first child, you may think that you know exactly what to expect, but that’s not always true. Every birth is different, because there are so many factors and variables. A doula has been trained to deal with a variety of scenarios, and how to support you and the mother through them. Wouldn’t it be better to have more help than you need, than not have it when you do need it?
When you hire a doula, you can be sure that you are getting the best support possible for both you and your partner. Doulas aren’t just for moms guys, dad’s love them too! If you are still on the fence, schedule a complimentary consult today. You might just be surprised on how much you want a doula too!