By Laura-kim single mom, recently divorced with 2 kids and the author of the blog Harrased mom.

My children have been attending a small private school in my area. It is no where near the level of a Crawford or St Stithians so while I got excellent education I wasn’t paying exorbitant fees.

We were all happy.

But then Kiara headed for Gr 1 and the jump in fees simply was not manageable for me. It would mean that I would be spending a huge portion of my salary on school fees leaving nothing left for anything else.

So I moved them to a public school, with the intention of then saving money, enabling us to start moving forward on our journey to financial independence. HA! Well it has not worked out like that at all.

Last year November I registered them at the said public school and had to pay R5000 to guarantee them a place (I paid R1600 for registration at the private school per child). Then I received the list of stationery and headed off to the shops! HA! What a mission. The lists state clearly that we must buy the names specified, which is great – if only you can find the names specified. So 6 shops later I decided to throw caution to the wind and I bought the products I could find. In total all the stationery and toiletries I had to buy cost me around R1800.

Then came the best part- the school uniforms of this public school. The girls wear dresses, very pretty little dresses that cost R235 a pop! I couldn’t only buy one and even two is stretching things. I work. I don’t have time to wash and dry uniforms every day. Her shoes were R179 (shoes which I think are already too small, two weeks into the term). The tracksuit was over R500. The golf shirt for her sports activities is R117 for one. she has a sport on 4 days of the week – so again, one is not enough. Her costume cost R170 plus she needed a navy blue towel (Are you adding this all up?)

Cameron fortunately still fitted into his gray shorts and shoes from last year, but I will need to buy new ones next term. But his plain blue school shirt was R75 (it’s PLAIN BLUE). He also needs a sport shirt – at R119 (prices increase as the sizes do) and soccer socks (for cricket also) at R45 for one pair (clearly it costs huge money to put a blue stripe on a sock). His tracksuit was also R500 but I ran out of money so he has the bottom (R300) and a jersey (R39.99 at Pep) – I will get the top for winter. His costume was R100 plus the blue towel.

Let’s not forget the school bags, the lunch boxes, juice bottles – totally R300.

In case all those numbers confused you let me tell you – since November last year I have spent R11 000 on school stuff for my children at a public school. And it is a happy day for me when they come home and don’t ask for something more – these days have been few and far between since school opened two weeks ago.

Now I don’t earn a huge salary but I earn a lot more than most people who are sending there kids to this school – HOW do they manage? How do they find R11 000? I used all my savings, asked their dad for money and borrowed from my mom to be able to afford it.

I am all for uniforms – really I am. But do we need R235 dresses? I don’t buy dresses that cost that much. Do we really need golf shirts for R117? Do the gray socks really need that blue line through them? I honestly don’t think so. The school has major issues with children wearing the correct uniform and I can now see why. Change the uniform and I guarantee everyone will be uniform tomorrow. To me its better having everyone in plain colours than having half the school wearing one thing and the other half another!

My kids have now had to get used to eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch because I cant afford more than that right now – I am busy repaying my mom and trying to save for next year!

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