Every year around this time, I start getting bombarded with all these ideas about the little Christmas spy that is Elf on the Shelf. If you aren’t familiar with them, I’ll just quote their website to give you an idea of what’s going on:
The Elf on the Shelf® is a fun-filled Christmas tradition that has captured the hearts of children everywhere who welcome home one of Santa’s Scout Elves each holiday season. The magical Scout Elves help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists by taking note of a family’s Christmas adventures, and reporting back to Santa at the North Pole nightly. Each morning, the Scout Elf returns to its family and perches in a new spot, waiting for someone to spot them. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their Scout Elf each morning.
So basically, for $30, you can buy yourself a whole new Christmas season obligation and feed into late capitalism all at once! I know I probably just seem bitter and lazy about it (maybe I am), but I can explain.
I don’t need that kind of pressure.
My favorite/least favorite thing about Elf on the Shelf is that it literally says in the story book that Elf moves every night. He has to be in a new place each morning, so your kids can “race around the house looking for their Scout Elf”.
Y’all, the last thing I want my child doing first thing in the morning is racing. The second to last thing I want my child doing is making me lie about why Elf is still in the same spot on the counter for the fourth day in a row because I forgot to move a dang toy around my house after wrestling a toddler to sleep.
If you’re anything like me, the couple of hours after child bedtime are the most sacred hours of the day. I can relax, play video games, watch a show – it’s me time. And sure, moving a toy can’t take more than 3 minutes to do, that’s true. But have ya’ll seen the Pinterest pressure on these things? If I’m a good, creative mom, I’m supposed to outdo myself each night with all kinds of hijinks this Elf is supposedly up to. Just look at so me of these examples, y’all.
Of course, 100%, I could just… not do those things. It’s not required that you set up a scene each night. but as I mentioned in my post about birthday parties, the pressure is so real.
It shouldn’t take a gimmick to make my kid behave.
The premise behind the Elf on the Shelf is that they are Santa’s eyes and ears. Your scout elf can be anywhere at any time, so you have to be sure that you’re acting right. You don’t want to end up on that naughty list, after all.
My problem isn’t the bribery aspect of it honestly, because I’ve come to use bribery as like 85% of my parenting strategy. If you eat your broccoli, you can have a piece of candy after dinner, if you make good choices at school, we can go to the park. My recent favorite comes from my genius husband: if you brush your teeth well without complaining you can have a gummy vitamin. But all the things we bribe with are things that can be taken away. No broccoli, no candy. Throw a fit, no iPad. Kick the dog, and we will stop this movie right now, son. We try hard to equate choices with consequences. Asher’s preschool is really big on choices too. We want to foster a sense of responsibility that creates good behavior organically. It’s little things every day that accomplish this, not one big thing seasonally.
You’re not going to take Christmas presents away from your kids. Christmas gifts and birthday gifts are not an earned reward, they are gifts. I don’t just want excellent behavior for a month or two around Christmas because my kids feel their holiday is threatened. I want good behavior year round because that’s what’s right.
I’m probably being a bit dramatic with this, but the principle is solid. Don’t tell your kids some spy is gonna tattle to Santa and take away their Christmas. Teach your kids to act right all the time.
I do not need a single thing more the waste money on consistently.
So As I was writing this I went on the Elf on the Shelf website (obviously) and you know what I found? Elf pets, elf clothes, elf ornaments, elf DVDs elf party supplies, elf sleeping bags, elf snow tubes, elf stationery, elf hot air balloons??! I could go on y’all. You could ostensibly spend hundreds of dollars on this Christmas tradition if you wanted to. You know how many systems I already own that I spend too much money on? Hot wheels, Thomas the Train, Play doh, Nerf, and Legos to name a few. I do not need one more thing to accessorize and expand upon in my home.
All of these crazy toy systems are just money making schemes from various corporations. I do not have the time, energy, or money to keep up with any more. I’m thinking that if I just don’t mention it, my kid will never notice our shelves’ conspicuous lack of elves. Maybe someday he will go to a friend’s house and their mother will betray me by exposing him to Elf on the Shelf. My son might then ask me for a toy snitch for Christmas. Two things will happen: I will add this Pinterest mother to my list of “do not call for play dates”, and I will revisit my stance on these Elves on Shelves.
But for now, keep them far away from me, pretty please.
That is all.