Expecting a child with a physical or mental disability can be an emotional experience. The worries and questions you may be experiencing are all normal. However, you can calm many of your anxieties by making the right adjustments for your new life with a special needs child. Here are some important steps to take to get ready for your new role as a parent.
First, Take Time to Prepare Yourself
Caring for a new baby can always be a challenge, but caring for a baby with special needs can be even more overwhelming for new parents. That’s why consistent self-care is so important, especially during those first few weeks and months. Try to create time in your schedule for the activities you truly love; this could be reading, writing, or gardening. Maybe try to sneak your hobbies in between naptime, or have your partner help out to allow you more time for stress relieving self-care. If you find yourself feeling emotionally overwhelmed, and you experience feelings of anxiety or depression, it’s also important to reach out for help. Postpartum depression is actually quite common, but getting the proper treatment can help you better care for yourself, as well as for your new baby.
Then, Take Steps to Prepare Your Home
Once you have yourself mentally and emotionally prepared for parenthood, you need to turn your attention to your home. Most new mums are excited to set up the nursery and crib, but make sure you pay attention to child safety tips as well. You will notice that some rooms can be more dangerous than others. For children with physical disabilities, the bathroom can certainly be one of them. For this reason, you may want to think about updating yours with grab bars and even a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs decrease falls and also prevent shower doors injuries, but there are some cons to consider as well. One of the downfalls of a walk-in tub is that you need to be inside to turn the water on, so many children often get cold waiting. You can mitigate this, however, with a towel warmer to wrap your child in comfort while waiting for bathtime.
Spend Time on Financial Planning Too
Setting up a safe home can provide one form of security for your special needs child, but you should also take steps to ensure financial security for your family as well. The costs of a new baby are always fairly high, so adjust your budget and planning accordingly. Most parents can expect to pay nearly $300,000 over the course of their child’s life, and that number includes smaller needs like diapers and bottles, as well as larger expenses, such as college. Depending on the kind of disability your child will have, however, you may need to be more prudent in your financial planning. The financial needs can be different for children with disabilities. Like most parents, you will need to look into life insurance and other savings plans, but you also need to ensure your child’s special needs will be met for life.
Ask for Help When You Feel You Need It
Most new parents have a difficult time finding the time for the self-care mentioned above. If you find yourself lacking the time for rest and relaxation, don’t feel guilty about looking into respite care services for your child. These services are similar to child care but also provide the specialized care and attention required for children with physical or mental disabilities. You can hire someone to help for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks. In addition to respite care, parents of children with special needs can also turn to parental support groups for an added boost. You can find this support within your community, in your local schools, or even online. Just know that you are never alone in this challenging journey.
Being a parent is an incredible experience, and being a parent to a child with special needs can be even more beautiful. You just need to do your best to prepare and be ready for your new baby, and all that your new role will bring to your life.
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