Each parent approaches parenting in their own way, and that includes parents on wheels. In the end, being involved in your child’s life is all that really matters
While studying occupational therapy, the term “Jack of all trades” was thrown around quite readily – but instead of completing it with “…master of none” as the saying goes, we said: “…master of all.” We did subjects like woodwork, sewing, arts and crafts and a variety of sports and other activities.
Fellow students, family and friends were perplexed by all the projects we had to do and couldn’t understand how they fit in with treating patients. At first I had a tough time making the connection too! Until I did.
It was all about helping people adjust to daily life from a different perspective in a different way. Finding ways to improve regular activities to suit the needs of every individual with altered needs, enabling them to do the things they loved to do. It was also about finding ways to do and experience new things they thought they could never do.
OK, bear with me – this isn’t about occupational therapy! We’re still talking about parenting. It’s about parenting from a different perspective and finding ways to be the parent you want to be – regardless of physical abilities.
Parenting is probably one of the most regular, natural “activities” out there, but every single parent, with or without physical challenges, will inevitably tackle it in their own, unique way, much like life in a wheelchair. You could say that parents on wheels will do great since they know how to tackle life in a way that suits their needs!
Embrace change and experiment
There are two types of wheelchair parents. Some had already been in a wheelchair when they had their children, whereas others were parents first and became wheelchair users after. It’s debatable which is more challenging, but my perspective is this: It doesn’t matter!
What matters most is for each parent to find solutions that suit them. For example, some wheelchair moms or dads use a scarf to handle, hold, pick up and secure their baby or infant. Others don’t feel comfortable with that method at all. Some choose to change their baby’s nappies on a work surface specially built for them. Others use their bed or another surface around the house.
Let tech work for you
Technology and innovation in our our day and age are just fantastic. There pretty much isn’t anything that can’t be changed, altered or created to make our lives easier. I learnt that as an OT and had it reinforced when I started using my chair! It doesn’t have to be expensive or someone else’s innovation, it can be our own.
Take a task or activity that is challenging; think out of the box to find a solution that works for you. I bet, if you look around the house, you’ll even find something to help you implement the changes! As long as you do what you can to be the best and most involved parent, nothing else matters.
No “right” or “wrong”
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong. Change, adapt, experiment and adjust as much as you need to in order to find methods that enable you to get those parenting tasks done. As parenting coach and TV personality Sue Atkins says: “There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.”
Wanda Boshoff is a wife, mother and qualified occupational therapist who also happens to be a paraplegic. Thanks to her experience in these fields she is able to assist others in similar situations. Before her accident in 1998, she ran a successful private practice specialising in children – particularly those with childhood-development and school-related issues. Over the past 20 years she has been running her own businesses, and become a blogger and the owner of a guest house.