The new school year is well underway, and it's time for me to start thinking ahead to next year when my eldest son Ethan is due to start school.
Securing a place in primary school seems to be a formidable challenge these days as catchment areas shrink ever smaller, with over 300 applications for just 60 places not being unusual near me.
It's all very different from when I grew up. If you had money you were privately educated. If you were particularly religious you could go to the appropriate religious school. Otherwise you went to the nearest primary school. Each primary school was a feeder school to a secondary school, usually fairly close by, so you would automatically get a place there.
I was lucky enough to be able to walk to both my primary and secondary schools, though given the Scottish weather I was always very grateful if my parents gave me a lift. I was also glad to be in a mixed school as I didn't like the idea of being in an all girls school. That's probably based on reading too much Malory Towers as a child along with irrational fears that being tall would mean being cast as a man in school plays.
These days, it's all about ratings and exam success, with parents poring over every detail they can get their hands on. I must admit, I have started doing the same. I'll soon be an expert on all my local schools; whether it's the number of pupils, average class size, or even the percentage of pupils who don't speak English as a first language.
Already, I am feeling rather frustrated. Like most London parents, we run the risk of not getting into the nearest primary school even though we're in the catchment area. If we don't get in then it could mean a traipse across the borough to a school that's not as good. Even a few miles can take hours or multiple bus journeys when it comes to getting across London in rush hour.
What do you think? Would you move house to try to ensure your child's place at your chosen school? Are you worried about sending your child to a single sex or mixed school? Let us know by commenting below...
Even if we get the primary side of things sorted, we then have secondary schools to worry about. For some reason most of the schools, whether state or independent, are single sex. Apparently girls perform better at all girls schools, although when they go into sixth form they are allowed to mingle with boys again.
I'd prefer my boys to attend a mixed school, so that girls don't become this great mystery and they are capable of normal interaction with the opposite sex. Nor am I keen on independent schools. I think state schools should, and often do, provide a great education. Private schools may not cost much more than nursery fees, but I cannot wait for the day when we stop paying for childcare and my salary will feel like a lottery win.
So, what's a parent to do? The clock is ticking on the school application forms. Do we copy numerous other parents and reluctantly move area? Apparently some parents will pay over £50,000 extra to buy property near a desirable school. Do we stick to the lovely primary school near us (if we get in, of course) and then move nearer the time for secondary schools? Or hope that the closest mixed secondary gets a better Ofsted rating over the next few years? Maybe I'll embrace the idea of an all boys school. It's hard to shake off the feeling that what we decide now will affect our boys for the rest of their lives!
Whatever happens, it won't be long until my first born will be putting on a school uniform and I will realise just how quickly time flies and that children really do grow up before your eyes.
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine every Friday to join in with the conversation
When it is time for your child to start school, don't miss our top tips for doing well at school from teacher, Charlie Taylor
Read Kirsty's columns: