Parenting in any terms can be difficult, but adding a wheelchair to the mix can add a heap of challenges to the equation. With a lack of information out there offered by professionals on how to care for children from a wheelchair, we have collated personal experiences and tips from parents on online forums to create our own advice on making parenting from a wheelchair a little easier.
Find equipment that supports your needs
As a parent who has limited mobility, there are important things to consider when purchasing items for your child. Finding equipment to aid your independence is essential, looking at reviews and feedback from other disabled parents will help you to make that decision. Your criteria will probably differ from an able person's checklist, so it’s important to test the functionality of the items. Instead of making purchases online, try shopping in-store. Shopping in-store gives you the freedom to test the products for yourself and to see whether they will be suitable for you and your child.
Examples of tools that might be useful include a stroller with a height-adjustable single handle, as you can easily control this whilst sitting in a wheelchair. You may also consider using cribs and a changing table which can either be purchased, adapted, or built from scratch to fit your needs. Adapted furniture can make it a lot easier to position and care for your child from a wheelchair.
Another great piece of equipment is a Moses basket or a bedside crib. Placing the Moses basket in bed with you will make it a lot easier for you to check on any stirring or crying, instead of getting up and checking on the baby during the night. They are also portable and can be moved into other rooms to easily care for the baby around the home.
Be inventive with everyday objects
Using and adapting everyday objects as parenting tools can be a great idea to help care for your child.
Scarfs can often be repurposed and used to complete basic tasks with your child. Their durability, softness and length makes them an ideal tool to help tackle many daily jobs.
Scarfs can be used to help keep your baby secure when positioned on your lap. Using a scarf or baby wrap can be a great help with lifting the child with ease, although caution should always be used when using this method of moving your little one.
Desks can also be used as an alternative to a changing table. For example, having a desk with wheels can make it a lot easier to change your baby in any position or location. Ensuring the desk is a good height to wheel your wheelchair underneath can make the baby changing tasks a lot easier. Never leave your baby unattended on a changing table.
Don’t compare yourself to other parents
Every parent struggles with the pressure and judgement that comes with parenting. As a parent with limited mobility, it can be equally as challenging to not make comparisons to both able and disabled parents. But what may work for you, may not work for others and vice versa. As a disabled parent, it’s important to remember that each parent’s abilities differ, as do the characteristics of every child.
Having a network of like-minded parents around you can make all the difference, whether this be online through disabled parenting groups through social media, in real life, or through websites such as, Disability, Pregnancy and Parenthood. Find your own way of parenting to suit your needs and your child’s. Opening up the conversation with other families and being honest with the struggles of having children will help you to appreciate that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect parent’. Take time for yourself and reward your efforts with some time off - don’t feel guilty for having time away from parenting.
Parenting for both able and disabled parents is difficult, but being in a wheelchair shouldn’t affect your ability to be a good parent. The tips included in this article will hopefully aid you in your parenting tasks and offer advice and opinions on parenting from a wheelchair. Always remember that although at times it can be difficult, you are doing a good job. There is always help out there whether that comes in the form of support from family and friends, health professionals, registered charities or online forums and blogs.