How costly kids can eat, play and buy you out of home

School trousers, packed lunches, FIFA points – whatever they are – pocket money and biscuits will end up costing quite a bit (maybe even more than £1 million) to raise four children up to the age of 21, writes Leona O'Neill

Leona O'Neill reckons that packed lunches for her children will cost £26,208 over 21 years

NORTHERN Ireland is some spot. We have the ceaseless, relentless rain. We have frequent political deadlocks. We have high unemployment and less than fabulous infrastructure. We have the arguing over flags, marches, symbols, names, religion and politics and we have a delicate peace.

And now we have been unveiled officially as the most expensive region to bring up children, according to a new report.

The average cost of bringing up a child to 21 years of age in this corner of the world is £242,413, some £4,000 more than last year and a fair few pound higher that the UK average of £231,843. As a region, we came in just £10,000 behind fancy London.

This makes Northern Ireland more expensive than the averages for England, Scotland or Wales. The report notes that, to look at it another way - a child is now more expensive than the average house, or in my case a palatial mansion.

The study `The Cost of a Child 2016', compiled for the insurer LV= by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, found that the cost of childcare hits families the hardest, with parents dishing out as much as £70,000 on childcare costs.

Apparently we spend some £74,000 on our kids' education and some £19,000 is spent on food for one child up until the age of 21.

We spend £10,000 on clothes and dish out almost £5,000 on pocket money. The average family spends £16,000 on holidays and £9,000 on toys.

I don't think those figures really apply to me, as my family are not average and my children not normal. I have done my own detailed research and am ready to put forward the following statistics.

On top of the spend above, here is the average spend in the O'Neill house per child spanning the period from birth to 21-years-old.

Biscuits are a big thing in our house. We would go through at least six packets per week at a cost of £1 per packet. We're looking at a biscuit total of £6,552 for 21 years.

My middle child trains in football five times per week, at an average cost of £3 a time. This will cost £16,380 over two decades. But this cost will be balanced out when he signs for Manchester City in a few years and buys me a car made out of solid gold with a bejewelled steering wheel and a built-in diamond shining machine.

We have a higher than normal spend on replacing broken stuff. TVs knocked off their perch during wrestling matches, wall mirrors displaced and smashed by footballs, flushed remote controls and mobile phones, a mountain of dropped plates and cups – it all adds up to, I dunno I'm just guessing here, about £100,000 over the 21 year period.

Another huge cost in our house is school lunches, which are purchased in bulk on a Friday evening for gradual consumption during the school week, but are all sneaked and consumed on a Saturday and have to be repurchased on a Sunday and placed in a secret, secure location. Total cost over 21 years - because I'll probably be making soggy cheese sandwiches for lunch boxes until those children are in university - is £26,208.

The cost of replacing school trousers – my sons are experts at putting the knees out of seemingly indestructible material – will run into the thousands and the replacing of coats, due to a certain child rolling them up for goalposts at various locations across the city and district and then coming home without them, will cost at least £3,000.

The replacing of shoes that only last a week due to being dragged along the ground while riding a bike will probably run into £2,000, significantly smaller as I sincerely hope they grow out of that particular habit by 18-years-old.

The purchasing of FIFA points, whatever the hell they are, will run into about £6,200 over 21 years and paying for neighbour's windows broken by footballs will cost maybe £500.

So LV=, there you go. The average cost of bringing up a child in Northern Ireland may well be £242,413, but I'm going to add on a few pounds for biscuits and breakages and the like, round it up to £397,000 and then multiple it by four to get a total of £1,588,212.

Bringing up kids is an expensive business.

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