‘Back to school is almost as stressful as Christmas’
For Marie Bray, mother of three schoolgoing children, the back-to-school period is as stressful, if not more so, than Christmas.
"At least at Christmas you can trim costs, but you can't with schoolbooks," she said.
"They aren't luxuries and finding that extra cash is really tricky these days."
At the moment, three of her four children are in primary school. The most expensive book bill this year has been for Luke, who has just turned 12 and is starting sixth class.
Between books, work-sheets and arts and crafts material, the cost is €140.
The cost for Hannah (9), who is starting fourth class, is only marginally cheaper at €139.
Books and materials for seven-year-old Bethany come in at €100.
"That's aside from pens, pencils, copybooks and new schoolbags," said Mrs Bray.
She said that parents around the area were helping each other out as much as possible, passing on books no longer needed by their children.
"Of course, the problem is that the books keep changing and that drives me nuts," she said.
"I just can't see why a history book has to keep getting rewritten. Surely history isn't something that changes too much."
Workbooks are another bone of contention. "For older students, the teachers have started getting them to write the answers in copybooks so at least it means that those workbooks can be re-used," she said. "Otherwise you end up throwing them in the bin at the end of the year."
But the real worry for Mrs Bray is a year down the line when her oldest son starts secondary.
"I've been told it's going to cost about €1,000," she said.
"I've decided I'm going to start planning for that now, putting aside money with my the credit union.
"At some point I'm going to have all three of them in secondary school and that's going to be extremely tough."
Irish Independent Supplement