Parents pay out a terrifying £201,809 raising each child, according to a recent report. We asked three mums to keep a diary for a month and account for every penny they spent on their kids. It soon added up.

“I’m going to cut back on some of the after-school activities”

Yourlife 15.04.10 Jo Bubb

Jo Bubb, 29, is a part-time carer from Birmingham and mum to Abbie, nine, Chloe, seven and Rosie, two. Her husband Michael, 42, is a workshop controller.

What Jo spent on her kids

Food: £286.20

Nappies and wipes: £45.85

Medicines and toiletries: £17.12

Childcare: £24 (Rosie’s playgroup)

Activities: £57 (Drum lessons, dance lessons, karate)

Clothes: £164.57 (School uniform £37.57, school shoes £62, other £65)

Outings: £32.40 (rollerblading, gym trip, visit to botanical gardens on Mother’s Day)

School trips: £15

Treats: £34.20 (books £6.20, Club Penguin website £7, tuck shop money £10, sweets £4.50, magazine £5, swimming certificate £1.50)

Presents and cards: £19.89 (For two birthday parties)

Transport: £38 (bus and petrol for kids’ parties and activities)

TOTAL £734.23

Jo says: “This was a very typical month for us and I can’t believe how much I spent on the children – I thought it would be half that and I’m going to try and cut down on some of their after-school activities.  Like most families, money is tight. I’m surprised how much I spent on food but I do like to make sure it’s good quality. I spend about £2 each on the girls’ lunch boxes and try to give them healthy stuff.

I’m also shocked at how much I spent on clothes – I had to buy new school uniform for both the older girls, as their trousers were flapping round their ankles, and Rosie needed new clothes too as she’s grown. I spend a lot on socks – they’re always losing them – and I think it’s important to buy good-quality school shoes, though I don’t mind buying cheaper trainers.

We go roller-blading quite often and I don’t want to stop that – it’s fun and healthy and means they’re not sitting in watching TV. I’d cut back on birthday presents for their friends, but if I try to buy something cheaper they say they don’t want their present to look shabby. I can’t afford to give the girls pocket money, but I’ve told them I will if they do fewer activities. Hopefully Rosie will be out of nappies soon, so that will save some money, and she’ll also get free sessions at playgroup when she’s three.” “I batch cook their meals and freeze them”

Vicky Cheal, 24, from Durham, has three children – Jake, four, Jess, two and Logan, five months. Vicky is currently on maternity leave from her job as an administrator in a prison. Her husband Martin, 30, is a truck driver.

What Vicky spent on her kids

Food: £87.93

Nappies, wipes and nappy bags: £42.99

Medicine and toiletries: £2.89

Childcare: £412.50 (nursery for Jess)

Clothes: £26 (school uniform £19, other, £7)

Treats: £47.03 (Ben 10 slippers for Jake £3.50, gardening kit £4.45, PlayStation game for Jake £29.99, Fifi stickers £9.09)

Pocket money: £3.14 (They don’t get pocket money as such but I slip loose change into their holiday fund)

Transport: £4.50 (petrol)

Other: Professional photos of kids £45, new mattress for Jake’s bed £80

TOTAL £751.98

Vicky says: “I know I spend a lot of money on the kids. When I was working I had the money to treat them but it’s harder now I’m on maternity leave. I’ve stopped buying comics because they just get torn really quickly but I spent less than normal on sweets and clothes this month. Most of the money goes on childcare – Jake’s sessions at nursery are free ­because of his age but I have to pay £25 a day for Jess. She loves it and I’ve kept her there while I’ve been on maternity leave or I’d have lost the place. It’s about to go up £1 a day which doesn’t sound much but it’s a lot if you add it up over the year.

Logan will be starting quite soon which will double the cost, but most of Jess’s fees are covered by tax credits and I hope Logan’s will be too.

Vicky Cheal, 24, from Durham, has three children – Jake, four, Jess, two and Logan, five months. Vicky is currently on maternity leave from her job as an administrator in a prison. Her husband Martin, 30, is a truck driver.

“Twins are even dearer now they’re teenagers”Jo Bryan, 44, from Peterborough, has two children – twins Paige and Conor, 14. She’s a mystery shopper and husband Chris, 35, works for a crane company.

What Jo spent on her kids

Food: £188.85

Toiletries: £28.08

Activities: £48 (running and badminton)

Clothes: £227.66 (jacket, thermals, trousers, walking boots and socks for Duke of Edinburgh trip, £169.67, sports clothes £30, school tie/ tights £15, other £12.99)

Outings: £78.80 (Indian meal, lunch out, two cinema trips with drink/sweets, horse show entrance with food and drink)

School Trips: £22

Treats: £66.99 (Xbox controller, £18.75, iPod case £19.99, magazines £12.60, DVD rental £11.65, chocolate £4)

Pocket money: £40

Presents for twins’ birthday: £184.96

Transport: £72.45 (bus and petrol)

Other: £48 (£28 Duke of Edinburgh

equipment, Sport Relief £20)

TOTAL £1,005.79

Jo says: “I was shocked when I heard it costs £200,000 to bring up a child – I don’t think I’ll spend as much as that. But having twins is expensive as you have to pay for two of everything.  I’m a bargain hunter and careful with money, so I was surprised how much I did spend. This was a much more expensive month than usual, though, as it’s coming up to the twins’ birthday, and I also had to buy Paige’s kit for the Duke of ­Edinburgh trip.

I’ve borrowed as much as I could – a tent, sleeping bag and flask – but I still had to buy clothes. However, I think she’ll have the time of her life and I hope she carries on with the scheme.  I do spend a bit on food but I cook from scratch. I want them to have a good start and get in the habit of eating healthily for life. Now they’re teenagers, I’m spending a lot on skin and hair products too. They get £5 a week pocket money but they have to make their beds and help out.

Children just get more expensive as they get older. Things crop up like them wanting to go out for a meal with a friend. I don’t always say yes but they do need a social life. And clothes are dearer.”

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