Dads of Shanghai: Greig and Oscar

The best, and hardest, parts of being a dad

by Anna Dixon | Mon, July 10, 2017

This month, Parents&Kids met with three dads and one dad-to-be to chat about their views on parenthood, what they did to prepare and how they felt when they found out they were going to be fathers.

Full name: Greig Charlton

Child's full name: Oscar Charlton

Nationality: British

Job: CEO – 247tickets

Where in the city do you live: Laoximen

How long in Shanghai: seven years

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

Grieg: It was the single most scary yet exciting feeling I’ve ever had. On the one hand you’re thinking “Oh my god, I literally can’t take care of myself! How am I going to take care of a child?” On the other hand you’re thinking, “Wooohoooo this is awesome!”

When did it hit you that you were a father?

Grieg: Delivery room, about 5 seconds after birth when he started screaming. Every single day when I think about him, even now, I suddenly think "Oh yeah! I’m a dad!"

Did you prepare at all? Read baby books? Attend classes?

Greig: I totally went head first into reading EVERYTHING there was to be read about everything. I trawled the mommy websites, burned through Kindle books and analysed everything. Then once you actually have a kid you realise there was no point in reading anything.

Did you feel an instant bond with your son, or did it grow and develop over time?

Greig: Totally instant. This little baby human, looking up at you when you have no clue what to do. He gets it, he knows I have no clue. We roll with it.

 What do you feel is the hardest part of being a dad?

Greig: It’s the worry – I’m sure this is the same for every parent – am I doing this right? How are we going to afford this? What if this happens? Should he be eating all those red berries from the side of the road? Yeah, worry. All the time.

And the best part?

Greig: I guess it changes depending on age but at the moment I’m loving the random conversations we have about whether a pillow is a picnic or a steering wheel. The sort of conversations only a two and a half year old could have.

How do you juggle work and home life?

Greig: My belief is that there is no perfect way of doing it. You just have to be present wherever you are. If you’re at work you work, if you’re at home, you try and make sure you’re not working. It’s hard. I fail at that constantly.

Did your relationship with your partner change when you became parents?

Greig: I think we became a lot more understanding of each other. When you’ve had two hours sleep every night for six weeks you sort of have to be. There is nowhere to hide. You’re in it together.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your son?

Greig: I love taking him down to the local park, not least because all the Chinese ayis come out and give me fruit and stuff.

How would you describe your child in one sentence?

Greig: Funny, really funny. And a bit dangerous.

What advice would you give to an expectant father?

Greig: Take all advice with a pinch of salt, that’s my… advice. Also sleep. Just sleep, go to bed early, wake up late, sleep in, sleep during the day, set your alarm for 5am just so you can switch it off and go back to sleep. Nap, sleep in the car, sleep on the metro, sleep everywhere. Because you’ll never do that again.