We've barely just recovered from Christmas but all of a sudden the pressure is on parents once again. This time it's all about forking out to create the perfect family Easter extravaganza. But when did Easter become such a big deal?
If the kids aren't falling on their knees to worship at the foot of towering piles of over-priced chocolate eggs whenever we set foot in the supermarket, then I'm being bombarded with direct-marketing campaigns reminding me to buy 'all the goodies I need for my Easter get-together'.
Well, there goes my plan to put my feet up and scoff chocolate during the Easter weekend.
I must be the only mum who didn't get the memo decreeing that Easter is the new Christmas.
It seems I'm supposed to send Easter cards (hand-made, of course) to my nearest and dearest, book a week's worth of exciting family day trips during the Easter holidays, whip up a storm in the kitchen with some Easter themed home-baking, and get crafty with the children by re-imagining the Easter bunny using nothing but sticky-backed plastic and cotton wool.
On top of that I'm meant to provide a feast for the family to rival the dinner table on Christmas day, turn my house into something resembling an interior design magazine with armfuls of spring flowers and an array of chic and tasteful Easter decorations, and still find time to rustle up an Easter tree, made by my own fair hands, of course.
Oh, and don't forget the spot of seasonal gardening I'm supposed to fit in over the long weekend, in readiness for the epic Easter egg hunt that I am expected to organise outside for the kids.
And judging by the chat between my boys and their friends at the school gates, other parents will also be splashing out on Easter gifts for their offspring in the form of new toys and clothes.
I can't decide whether that's a clever way of ensuring your child doesn't consume his or her body weight in chocolate, or just more evidence that the world has indeed gone (hopping) mad.
There might be more than two weeks to go until the Easter bunny hops into our homes, but I've already had my fill of Easter overkill.
I'm fairly certain that Easter wasn't a big deal when I was a kid. We thought ourselves lucky if we got a three-pack of Cadbury's creme eggs and the chance to paint our boiled eggs before we ate them. There were no house decorations or half-term ski-ing trips or epic egg hunts at stately homes.
But I first realised that times had changed when my son came home from nursery wide-eyed with wonder at the news that the Easter bunny would be visiting his classroom overnight.
Convinced he must have got the wrong end of the stick, I foolishly explained that the Easter bunny isn't real. He seemed unperturbed by this news so I put the matter out of mind, relieved to have been absolved of any responsibility for creating some sort of imaginary Easter wonderland in our home.
But the next day the nursery teacher drew me aside to let me know that she and her staff had spent hours decorating the classroom the night before, turning it into a cross between Santa's grotto and a medical experiment gone wrong involving lurid pink and yellow chicks and bunnies.
Apparently you could have heard a pin drop, such was the astonishment of the other children at the wonder of what lay before them. And when my son set foot in the classroom he boomed "There's no such thing as the Easter bunny!" shattering the illusions of 20 other children and guaranteeing that my name will be mud with the entire teaching staff forever.
I've since cottoned on that this isn't the done thing when you're a mum, and have gone to great lengths to perpetuate the Santa myth. But now it's as if Easter has become a follow-up to Santa's visit.
Well, I draw the line at all this fuss, particularly when it's driven by nothing more than fiscal madness. I'm going to to watch the lambs gamboling around the fields near our house with my kids, and take a moment to drink in the new life springing up all around us that Easter's meant to make us think about.
But I refuse to get swept along with the pressure to turn Easter into some sort of Waltons-esque perfect family experience this year.
The madness ends here. Or else I'll be locking myself in the bathroom with the kids' Easter chocolate stash and I'm not coming out until it's all over.
Do you agree?
More on Parentdish: Easter egg hunts - the slack mums' guide!
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