In Defense of the Elf on the Shelf

ElfOnTheShelfc“You’re lying to your kids!”

“It’s so creepy!”

“You’re in it for years and years!”

“Overachieving parents!”

“They’re just doing it to show of on Facebook and Instagram!” 

Most of us have read blog post after blog post by people who think Elf on the Shelf is the most ridiculous Christmas tradition. I don’t really care about what the next mom does with her kids, and not every family needs to have an Elf on the Shelf, but having these negative blog posts pop up really puts a damper on the holiday spirit. So, because I’ve had enough of the elf-bashing and elf-hating, I feel the need to defend us parents who take on the Elf on the Shelf traditions.

Lying to the kids
Most parents make up and tell lies to their kids all of the time. “Iron Man’s favorite thing to eat is sweet potatoes!” (Just eat the dang food!) “So-and-so isn’t home right now.” (They really are, but they’re mean to you, and I don’t want you to play with them right now.)  And yes, of course the big one: “Santa.” (It’s really us.) Do you resent the fact that your parents told you these little lies to protect you or to ensure you had a happy and fun childhood? I sure don’t. I enjoyed the magic of Santa, and I appreciate some of the life-truths things my parents protected me from. I highly doubt my kids are going to look back on their childhood and think, “Gee, Mom and Dad really ruined it for me by moving a felt toy elf around every night in December when I was little.”

Kids are kids: innocent and naive, but not dumb. Therefore they think the Elf on the Shelf is FUN! My kids cannot wait to wake up in the morning to see where our elf has moved to or to see if he’s done anything fun. It’s almost like Christmas morning every morning in December at our house. And when our elf made his grand entrance (hidden in a decorative tree) this year, my 6-year-old went berserk. The running-around-the-house, could-NOT-contain-the-excitement kind of happy. The joy in his and his siblings’ faces that night melted my heart and brought me tears of joy. How often do you get to see your kids pee-in-the-pants excited?

The kids see our elf as a reminder to be good, so I don’t have to nag them about it.  They know he’s “watching,” and not once have they expressed any sort of feeling that they’re weirded out by it (they’re kids, after all). Besides, hasn’t Santa always been watching you while you’re sleeping, knowing when you’re awake? How is this elf any different than Santa?

Years and years
The thought about having to do the elf thing every year for the next 8 or 9 years dawned on me last year as we were three years into the Elf on the Shelf.  I’ll admit – it was a scary thought. But, then I thought about how my oldest, who just turned 10-years-old, will be outgrowing Santa and the elf at any minute. Just like that, the magic will be gone. However, he will be there to help me keep the magic alive for his younger siblings until they outgrow it! That in and of itself lends to fresh holiday fun and traditions which I am so excited about. We have several more years with our elf coming to visit, but I’m not dreading it.

Overachieving parents
We all have different areas of strengths. Some moms are great cooks.  Some moms are creative and artistic. Other moms are amazingly crafty. The things I do with OUR elf are nothing outside of MY norm. Just because our elf “sewed” a quilt for himself one night, or “cooked” some homemade play-dough to share, doesn’t mean that your elf has to do that.  The parents who do Elf on the Shelf are not trying to out-do anyone.  We aren’t trying to raise the bar for other parents, or make anyone feel bad. We are just trying to make this time of year magical and fun for our kids!

Some of us moms are more open than others, and share more of our lives publicly.  That’s true for sharing pictures of our families, stories of vacations, things we’ve done and are proud of. Parents who post pictures of the antics or adventures our elves get into aren’t doing so to get a certain amount of likes or comments. We aren’t attention seeking. Mostly, we are sharing the love with other parents who do the elf thing, for inspiration. (Because sometimes it’s tough to even think of a new place to move the little guy at 10 at night…)

We all live with mommy-guilt almost every day. Being a mom is hard enough without the added stress of someone telling us that what we are doing is ridiculous, dumb, or wrong. So, if doing Elf on the Shelf is something that we feel good about doing for our kids, because it makes them happy and full of joy, let us revel in the fact that we just scored a little mommy-win in the month of December.

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