One of the greatest things I have discovered in my very fresh School Mum life is the school uniform.
There is always debate over school uniforms: they cost too much. They're outdated. They kill children's individuality. They force children to conform.
Hello? You're taking your kid to school. How else do they get all those kids to do anything?
Admittedly, the school my five-year-old daughter just started at appears pretty relaxed. I know some schools will have greater demands and greater costs - and of course, some families simply can't afford any extra costs at all. I absolutely have sympathy for those situations.
But, as someone with a child who has expressed her "individuality" since she could remove her own clothes, can I just say: YAY!
I can't tell you how much washing I have done since this kid could change her clothes at not even two.
Every time she went to daycare she'd return in the "spare" clothes I was required to pack for emergencies, purely because she thought they were for costume changes mid-way through her day.
All of them would be dirty. So. Much. Washing.
Friends would come to dinner and watch her disappear and re-emerge in four or five different outfits over the evening.
"Has she got changed again?" they would ask.
"Yes. And this is a light day," I'd explain, taking another swig of wine.
My girl was quite upset when she found out there was no school on Waitangi Day.
The weekend before that, she insisted on wearing her school uniform.
God bless you, school. I love you so much.
For approximately two years of my life - Every. Single. Morning - I endured the same argument over what to wear.
It was so exhausting that during a fit of frustation, which led to one of my many shining examples of excellent parenting, I shoved all her clothes into a large, stripy bag and put it out of sight.
There. You can't fight over clothes now, can you? You little bugger! So much stress.
My girl's school uniform consists of skirt-short culottes for $45, two polo shirts at $32 each and a stupidly large hat at $15 – a total cost of $124.
Additionally, we were given a hand-me-down polar-fleece for colder weather.
Yes, $32 just to have a blue polo shirt with the school logo is probably a rip-off. And $45 for culottes is probably steep.
(In case anyone needs to know, they are more like $8 to $12 at The Warehouse or Postie Plus).
But, over the 199 days my girl will go to school this year, this works out at 62 cents per day.
Sixty-two cents not to have a fight.
Sixty-two cents not to do all that washing, hanging out, folding, putting away.
Did I mention 62 cents to NOT FIGHT?
This isn't counting the fact that her uniform, if not ruined or lost, may well last much longer than just one year.
That 62 cents is buying me two things I thought I had lost: my sanity and my time.