Verity Lush is a 37-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth.
She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements. Follow her on Twitter @lushnessblog
By the time you read this, not only will it be one month until Christmas Day, but I will also be one step closer to bankruptcy thanks to the money that is being extorted by the schools that my children attend.
Last week, I received the respective school newsletters. Said missives kindly informed me that I would soon be expected to part with cash for a wide variety of events.
It seems that the heavier my diary becomes with festive dates, the lighter my purse begins to feel.
I have recently coughed up for school photographs, a cookery day and two Victorian costumes.
I have also paid for one school trip, with £3 extra for the gift bag, or ‘guilt’ bag, because if you don’t fork out, you can guarantee that yours will be the only child going without.
Visions of them returning with their heads hung low whilst their peers all wave about a logoed pencil and rubber set are enough to convince you to delve deep.
Then there was Children In Need, followed, a week later, by another non-uniform day.
This one cunningly asks for a gift donation for the Christmas tombola in exchange for allowing you the stress of remembering, yet again, to send your child in their own clothes.
At least they now stipulate a gift suitable for a child, seeing as I sent a bottle of wine in the first year.
I now need to provide a nativity outfit, a Tudor costume, two Christmas jumpers and a named purse containing £2 in loose change for my youngest to spend at the Christmas Fayre.
This is to buy items that the infants have made themselves.
Top quality then, as you can imagine.
My joy at this was topped by the slow-dawning realisation that I also need to pay for two Christmas parties, one Christmas lunch, and, the piece de resistance, a visit from Santa himself.
Given the amount that I’m spending to send my kids to school, I expect a visit from Beyonce and a personal concert in the playground.
And has anyone else noticed how the list of personalised items daubed by your children expands each year?
I fully expect that by the time Amelie starts junior school, I will open the order leaflet to see that I can purchase toilet rolls emblazoned with my children’s faces, as ‘uniquely personal gifts’ for my lucky relatives.
Brace yourself, mum.