Posted By Contributor, Lisa Robertson
But in recent years, there’s one thing I have come not to love and it’s the elf on a shelf. I had heard about the elf in the past but it wasn’t until last year that I realized that the elf was such a big deal. Between my friends posting their efforts on Facebook and the countless images, articles and elf tutorials plastered all over Pinterest, I have become all too aware of the fact that my kids were “missing out” on a month of holiday magic and I am missing out on a month of extra help in the effort to report back to Santa on any behaviors that merit a child being moved to the naughty list.
Yep. I’m that mom.
Then there is the fact that the elf gets into trouble in most of the scenarios I’ve seen. Why must he be naughty if he is the one who is supposed be reporting any poor behavior to Santa? He is not a very good role model and quite frankly, my house is messy enough without having to mess it up even more with naughty elf behavior. The elf on the shelf has, in some ways, evolved into the equivalent of a crooked cop—he’s watching over the general population while wreaking havoc around town. I don’t know if the creators of the elf originally intended for them to get into so much trouble or this is just something born out of moms and dads wanting to up the ante and have fun with it.
We purchased this set of ornaments from Target. They are the equivalent of an advent calendar with each day having a different number for the countdown to Christmas. As a Disney-loving family, these are a no-brainer because they are super cute and each ornament opens for parents to slip in a special surprise. Each day after school, my kids are encouraged to earn their ornament for the next day by doing chores and going to bed when they are asked. Each night I place the ornament for the next day in a special bear stocking hanging on their bedroom door.
The great thing about the ornaments is that I can prefill them and if I forget, I haven’t set up a crazy expectation—I just tell them I forgot and that the surprise will be in their stalking when they get home from school. So far, their ornaments have been filled with loose change, small Tootsie Rolls leftover from Halloween or a note letting them know that they’ve earned a special dessert after dinner.
Not only does the daily ornament incentivize them to be good during a very exciting time of year, but they must share the contents and negotiate taking turns putting the ornament on the tree each day. This works for us because it adds another special tradition to our holiday season and removes the pressure of finding 20+ different ways to situate an elf–thus eliminating hours on Pinterest looking for ways to be a Super Mom while feeling bad about what I’m not doing.
Call me lazy…or a survivalist, but for me, the bottom line is that we all need to just get through the holiday season in a way that works for our families, lifestyles, and schedules, and I have given myself permission to not fall prey to my own insecurities of not being able to do it all and be it all. I hope that you and yours are finding wonderful, meaningful ways to create special holiday magic this holiday season and may your kiddos strive to stay off the naughty list.