Although all parents go through similar experiences of nappy rashes, midnight tantrums and sleep deprivation, disabled parents can find that some experiences can be even more challenging until they make the adaptations to suit their lifestyle as a chronically ill parent.
I’m Georgina from the inclusive travel and wedding blog, Disabled Travel with Georgina and, although I’m not a parent myself, I would love to share some of the tips that I have experienced through peers or through caring for all of my friends’ and family’s children! I’ve found that carrying young children in a wheelchair can be problematic, especially when they are wiggly, energetic babies and I am trying to keep my hands free to selfpropel my wheelchair! Quite often, utilising a piece of material called a baby sling or carrier that holds the child close to your chest is helpful to keep your hands free whilst also protecting your precious new family member.
When I’m around playful toddlers, I’ll want to prioritise a chair that’s great for manoeuvrability and one that I can spin around quickly in, changing direction as the changeable little bundle of energy I’m playing with decides to run in a new direction! Personally, I would say that a particularly good chair for using a baby sling or wheeling around after a child would be the Ergo Live due to its increased manoeuvrability, smaller front casters and the stable design with adjustable details.
Being a parent is hard enough but being a parent in a wheelchair brings it’s own set of challenges.
One of the joys of having family is being able to share wondrous moments like days out; picnics, seaside paddles, countryside visits to old houses and visits to play centres. All of these days out are precious memories and things that you will all remember whilst also helping your children grow and learn. Everyone’s chair of preference for days out would be slightly different here but, for me, my spinal cord nerve damage is the key concern so I couldn’t manage to self-propel all day. It’s important to choose a wheelchair that has a high battery life if you are going to have a full day out with children, whilst also prioritising one that has enough comfort and support for you to be seated for a whole day. Personal preference and your specific disability requirements come in to play here but, if I was to focus on a sturdy chair that could nip around after children whilst also giving me a smooth ride then I would perhaps choose something like the Leon Captain. One of the EVO range would also be a really appealing option for a parent since they are safe, stable and are built with both and indoor and outdoor capability. This is important to me when I care for children since I struggle with being jolted, bumped or moved too much and I want to be able to adapt environments to run around after the kids too!
Choosing a day out that suits your body’s requirements and how much pain/ fatigue you have is very important. Remember, it’s more important to just spend time with your children whether that is doing arts and crafts at home, going out to the local park or a fullscale seaside holiday; each are wonderful experiences that create family memories!
On a slight tangent, when working with KARMA’s chairs, I didn’t realise how much of a huge gap in the market there was for children’s paediatric wheelchairs that are not only functional but are actually aesthetically pleasing and go above and beyond in terms of power and capability. I personally love the design of the Kameleon chair, designed specifically for children from ages 3-12 years old, and the boundaries that this would remove for a child’s growth, socialisation ability and learning environment! Plus, which child wouldn’t love the fun yellow and black colour and the fact that it can raise to “standing” height?!