The free babysitting, hot lunches AND education, all for less than the price of a pint of beer per day.
Even class trips to the zoo, art galleries or museums only cost a quid a go!
Yes, yes, I know they cost all us taxpayers a behind-the-scenes fortune, but I am a taxpayer and it still feels like enormous Value For Money – especially when the school holidays come round.
This week has been half-term for my three children – and I feel like I've been coshed over the head with a snooker ball in a sock and had my wallet emptied.
Three things haven't helped:
1. The Diamond Jubilee and the relentless pressure to entertain one's sprogs in the Royal manner to which they would like to become accustomed;
2. The bloody awful miserable p***ing British weather; and
3. My complete and utter lack of imagination to keep my 10, seven and four year-olds occupied enough to prevent them tearing each other to pieces.
The latter, I am convinced, is a male trait, for when I asked my mum friends on Twitter for some advice on how to amuse the children over several rainy days, they came up with the following suggestions:
• Try cutting and sticking, Making paper flowers, Making play-dough with water & corn flour
• Make some paper boats and have a battle in the sink, make percussion instruments from empty containers, play hide & seek?
• We're playing trains. We've also done a pass the parcel (leftover from recent birthday) and now have finger puppets to make!
• Get some lining paper, make them lie on it, draw round them & then make them complete self portrait.
• Cover kitchen table or worktop with shaving foam, sprinkle with water and draw! Clean fingernails, happy kids n sparkling table.
• Drop vinegar and food colour mix into baking soda. Amusing for a good half hour for young toddler, more for older children.
• Make paper planes and throw them down the stair well.
• Go in garden with raincoats and collect treasure! (Stones mainly and then wash the stones and then paint them.) Then make a tent with a blanket and have lunch under it.
Now all of these ideas, I'm sure you'll agree, are excellent and perfectly sound.
But being both a reluctant and lazy housedad, I would rather grate my eyeballs than make finger puppets or paint stones, so what's the solution?
Two Tweeters offered the following...
• Just pretend you live here in Scotland - stick them in front of the telly with some chips (and an occasional vitamin D pill)
• Why not exploit the urge to kill each other and have a Hunger Games-style tournament?
Which definitely have appeal, but I went for an even easier option – and decided to sod the overdraft, re-mortgage the house and throw money at the problem.
Oh how I wish I'd sewn my pockets up.
Here's how it all stacked up:
Bank Holiday Monday: The Fun Fair
Rides for three kids (and sometimes two adults) at £2 a time; hotdogs, £4 each; Cokes, £2 each
Stress factor: 8/10 (mainly from feeling nauseous on the Teacups)
Bank Holiday Tuesday: Bowling
Three kids and two adults, plus throw-it-down-the-drain money in the adjoining arcade, plus McDonald's for lunch
Wednesday: Pizza Express to make own pizza dough
Four kids (including one of mine's mates) and one adult
Stress factor: 7 (bus journey from hell, plus four year-old got covered in sticky dough)
Thursday: Cinema to see Monster In Paris
Three kids, one adult, plus gigantic boxes of popcorn, sweets and enough Coke to solve the alleged drought crisis
Stress factor: 3 (Dark room + loud movie soundtrack = peace)
Friday: Home Day
Playing Wii, watching TV, playing games, hide and seek, get blown about in the wind, making homemade burgers, doing homework, guitar practice, drawing pictures for when hard-working mum came home.
Stress factor: 1 (from feeling claustrophobic hiding in the cupboard under the stairs during hide & seek).
Cost: £20 (for the running buffet of fruit, snacks and treats that comes with staying home all day)
And the final scores, pro rata'd over five days:
Stress factor: 31
Stress factor: 5
So what does this carefully researched and compiled survey conclude?
Yes, that's right: school is BRILLIANT. Roll on Monday!
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