Becoming a father was a massive wake up call from the way I used to go through life; that is, spontaneously and sometimes selfishly. Previously, planning activities and outings was a doodle but these days doing anything requires intense planning. Below are some of the ways life changed after my son Arthur came into the picture:
Say goodbye to doing anything remotely dangerous like riding a scooter or motorcycle.
Before my son it was acceptable but now that you have a family, you will most likely have to upgrade to a safer vehicle of choice.
Forget those football drinking buddies.
If they aren't married and haven't started their own families yet, chances are they'll have no concept of 'just one drink.' While they can feasibly carry out pub crawls every night and sleep in the next day, you know your mornings are reserved for play requests or an early morning stomach stomping.
Being a parent can be expensive.
For me finding top quality healthcare for my son is as essential as matching him up with a great education. With the cheapest international schools starting at 75,000RMB a year, this is a massive 'mountain' of money and expense that I'm attempting to and will climb. But that financial responsibility does pull at the purse strings, much like having the weight of a grand piano attached to your wallet.
Therefore, with more expenses you take on more work projects, however that can lead to spending less time with your family - hence, what's the solution? While I'm sure there is one I've yet to figure it out. What I've learnt so far is that you must be quite regimented with your time and although earning a few more pennies is undoubtably a help, children really do want and need your attention. So there is a delicate balancing act when it comes to managing my time.
The result of administrative obstacles combined with a lack of sleep and a huge workload can be ....scenes.
The small admininstrative and everyday errands you need to do can be the trigger for a meltdown for busy, sleep deprived parents, with the endless identification photos and paperwork you have to get through piling up continuously. And when you've limited time to get things done, little mistakes or issues can tip you over the edge. When that happens, ugly scenes can break out - but honestly, try not to that, as it just exacerbates the problem. Being able to keep your cool is a requisite for being a parent.
Socially, I'm off the radar.
However this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some dads see not being able to go out like their pre-father selves as restrictive, but I have embraced this new lifestyle. Plus, being socially active can be expensive in itself.
My apartment no longer resembles an adult's and neither will yours.
In the mornings we no longer need that shot of espresso; we're now woken up by stubbing heels and toes into my son's toy cars. Hopping ensures, which leads to more injuries. While we've now set 'traffic regulations', we still need to organize my son's in-house play areas and toys better.
Get insurance, now.
Your phone will get smashed to smithereens just when you need it most, as will every other electronic device and potentially life-saving personal property. A back up phone is a great idea as is insurance for everything.
Peppa Pig is a family deity now.
She is their representation of the higher being. Peppa will be your friend and at times your worst enemy, but you must embrace her and her adventures and you must provide the occasional chuckle when watching her videos.
Stuart Lancaster is a Shanghai-based father and regular Time Out Shanghai Family contributor.