I was listening to the ol wireless recently and someone was talking about the huge burden of Back to School costs, how some families are going without food or foregoing holidays to pay for what is due.
Now, whatever about a holiday, but a mother or father out there having to scrimp on food or go without meals is where you have to take the finger out as an education system and realise that this is all kinds of wrong.
Then I heard the figure €1000 and €1400 being thrown about per CHILD going to primary and secondary, it was those figures that kind of stopped me in my tracks and I thought “ah Christ, hardly” but then I realised, Lenore, did you ever actually sit down and put pen to paper about the costs involved?
So yesterday morning, while the newborn was asleep, the girls were actually getting along, while Bodhi was playing with his cousin and the 23 month old was having her nap, JohnBoy was on the donkey out in the meadow, Sue Ellen was collecting eggs and Doris was milking the goat, I grabbed a pen, paper and all the 465 school letters, opened up all the school emails and made a list.
When I was done, I nearly fucking cried.
Before we get into it, yes, I know a lot of schools are now accepting unbranded parts of the uniform, they should.
That they operate a “Book Rental scheme” where the readers are passed on from class to class cutting out the cost of having to purchase new each year, also a no brainer and welcome idea.
That some schools do not ask for any “contributory” fees that people presume you can pull out of your ass at any given time.
I know that some of the items that I personally need to require are for Bodhi as he is starting a Junior School for children with autism and the costs required here are not normally something I would have to factor into my costs.
This following list I did is specific to my family, it wont be what every family out there is facing and I totally appreciate that you can definitely cut costs.
Especially when it comes to things like second hand books, uniform bits and you can pick up items such as underwear, socks, polo shirts, school shoes, unbranded school pants and jumpers in places like Penneys, Heatons and Dunnes.
That you dont have to go to “Eason’s” for your stationary bits, that places like Mr. Price or Dealz will have all the copies and so on typically, but this compilation is merely to demonstrate what the cost of stuff actually is and what is required of Irish families in general.
I think as the kids are younger you can get away with passing things on, sure they are just delighted with wearing a uniform and will shove on anything you give them. You can pick up any old thing in terms of pencil case, bag or shoes but then as they get older the self confidence and peer pressure comes into play. Lets be honest, you do have to factor into buying the Nike’s or the Jansport bags, look you know they will get the use out of them, its a personal choice for people what they want to get for their child and it is what it is, unless they want a €100 pair of Dubarry’s and you need to have a heart to heart about how Mom isnt the fucking Euromillions winner and they better become a heart surgeon and look after their mother down the line.
With regards to the brands then its all about keeping an eye out for deals and reductions throughout the year and taking a stab at approximate sizes by the time that they are due to start back again.
I am not the woman who waits outside Next for their sale, I would rather turn over in bed. I am not the woman who is running over people and camping out for Black Friday, Id rather stab a fork in my eyeball. I am definitely not the woman who takes a stab at sizes and hope they fit. Oh no, no, no I have six children and a budget and who the fuck has money to splash around like that when you have four school going children, they better fit or grow into the things.
Dont get me wrong I dont have any Krusty the Clowns floating around the place with shoes three sizes too big for them or jumpers down to their knees but you get what I mean. If you have children who grow like weeds during the Summer like mine then you may be like me and wait until last minute to see what sizes you need and purchase the shoes and uniforms then. If you are someone who guesses sizes three years ahead of time, Kudos to you, no, seriously, that is some going!
So grab a cuppa, biscuit, vodka, Xanax whatever it is you need and a box of Kleenex while you read through this bad boy!
- 5th Class Books & Stationary (excluding readers) €83.82
- 2nd Class Books & Stationary (excluding readers) €117.71
- 5th Class annual costs for Insurance, Art & crafts, Photocopying, Drama, Music, School tour, Swimming, Christmas panto, RSE Talk, Book rental scheme €125
- 2nd Class annual costs for Insurance, Art & crafts, Photocopying, Drama, Music, School tour, Swimming, Christmas panto, Book rental scheme €150
- 5th Year Books (excluding journal, stationary etc) €256.10 *to buy new
- Stationary costs for 5th year (roughly) €50
- Secondary School Annual Contribution €120
- School Bus Pass for Two children for one school year €200
- 4 pairs of school shoes €160
- 4 pairs of runners €180
- 1 pair of wellies €15
- Wetgear (required for Bodhi’s school) priced on Puddleducks.ie €40
- Swimgear €10
- Bicycle helmet €15
- Bodhi New Uniform: Pants, Polo shirt, Jumper, Jacket €81.50
- Underwear for 4 children €20
- Socks for 4 children €12
- Change of clothes for Bodhi, unbranded navy pants, pack of red polo shirts €20
- Bodhi Photocopying, Arts & Crafts for the year €100
- Bodhi Social Outings, Cookery, Sensory Play for the year €120
- Bodhi Swimming, Gymnastics, Cork Pops Trips for the year €250
- Pencil cases for 3 children €20
- 5th Class Hoody, Tracksuit Pants €45
- 5th Class Pack of white shirts, Pack of white polo shirts €15
- 2nd Class Hoody, Tracksuit Pants €45
- 2nd Class Pack of white shirts, Pack of white polo shirts €15
Which brings this grand total to an eye watering total of €2266.13
Please note that I am not pointing fingers at any schools or establishments, I am merely pointing out the actual cost of items. I know there is definite room for savings in a lot of areas but reality of it is the costs listed above are what you are faced with in the shops and online.
A lot of schools will leave room for paying per term which definitely takes the pressure off, especially if you have more than one child or a complete head case like me and have six.
I was self employed up until a couple of years ago so we are a one income household. I dont receive any benefits besides Bodhi’s Domicillary Care Allowance of €309 a month which is used towards his therapies, sensory room, requirements etc. I normally try and put the children’s allowance towards all the stuff the kids need be it school, birthday parties, new shoes, clothes what have you, but eh I definitely fall short by about €1400 this time around!!!
I know that this year we are looking at an extra €500 in terms of what Bodhi needs but in saying that that still would bring the total to €1700 which is a fucking huge amount!
There is a lot to be said for “Free Education” I think that the system could definitely do with readjusting and wiggle room.
This business of changing the editions of the books every year for Secondary is a joke and a money racket. Do you know that the books costs for Secondary are anything from €20 to €39.65 new? That they may need more than one book per subject?! Why cant they enforce a system where they do work on a usb key and use an e reader and just pay a smaller fee to download the books needed for their year. It would then wipe out the fucking hundreds we will need to fork out in physio costs down the line from the weight of the bloody bags and those books they are expected to cart around. The lockers you pay for just hold the books during the day, they still have to bring them home each day for homework!
What about each school has a certain colour scheme and they run with that in terms of a uniform look, instead of having to fork out for branded bits which they grow out of in a few months. They are children, that’s what they do and sometimes all they do, grow!! Kids have no mass on keeping things clean and sure as shit don’t care about the fact that their pinafore or school jumper cant be passed on or reused. It would definitely take the pressure off of us if you can just pick one up in Dunnes for €6.
Why are lunchboxes €15 in shops? For fucks sake they do realise by the 12th of September the inside is going to be painted with a petits filous and they are merely vessels for giving a banana a spin to school and back each day. Why do I have to pay €15 just to look at Paw Patrols mug for the foreseeable? By November I will have lost total interest in cleaning him in the kitchen sink, have him fucked in and out of the dishwasher and probably be only able to make out one eye and part of his nose.
Why do they sell copies in packs of ten when you need 15? To make you buy more my dear.
Why are twistables little bastards simply created to break by October and cover the end of the new school bag into little itty bitty crayola bits which has also probably burst a drink or ten and is now purple. I am almost certain they are used as some sort of drug deal exchange situation in classrooms by the bins?
What if little Polly or Peter want to take up Swahili or Bobsleighing for the year telling you they are definitely going to stick at it and it costs €120 a term and by the 1st of October they dont want to go as its “too hard” or “boring” or John, Jack, James, Julia or fucking Jehovah isn’t doing it anymore either so they don’t want to. Then you morph into your mother and repeat the words you never ever said you’d say “and if Jehovah wanted to jump off a bridge would you jump too?” and now your child is looking at you as if you just sprouted an extra head while walking backwards slowly.
Then the birthday parties that are every second day it seems when you have more than two children, yes, yes we all want our children to be included, but I am talking about needing a share in Hallmark and a direct line to the bank manager for a constant wad of €5 notes as that is what each parent now asks you for.
Then a month into the term you can look forward to the “for fucks sake someone has fucking nits in the class” letter that goes home and has you legging it to the chemist for €40 treatments by the time you go through all the heads.
So no, no, no my friends, the only thing I have come to the conclusion about that is free about the education system round here, are the hours between 9 until 2 when they are in the fucking school!