Elf On The Shelf Is Another Heaping Helping Of Holiday Mom Guilt

by Holly Garcia
Originally Published: 

The holidays have always been the most magical time of the year … mostly thanks to moms. Everything feels whimsical with the cocoa, the caroling, and spending time with family and friends. So for the love of all that is holy, why did someone dream up the concept of one more thing we have to do to layer on the holly jolly?

You know exactly who I’m talking about: that damn Elf on the Shelf.

Don’t get me wrong: they’re cute (in a creepy sort of way), they can be funny, and the kids love them. But mostly, they’re just a pain in the ass. Whoever came up with the concept probably didn’t realize what a burden all that “fun” would place on parents everywhere. Not only are we in charge of the shopping and the wrapping during the holidays, but we also have to keep everything hidden from the kiddos without forgetting where we hid it. And to top it all off, we also have to remember to move the elf for 24 days straight.

To be honest, simply moving that little bugger doesn’t even cut it anymore. They’ve got to do tricks and hang every which way (thanks, Pinterest). There are clothes and accessories. Since when did things get so extra?

Elf On The Shelf Is A Whole Other Level

Our kids absolutely love Ellie (our elf). All was fine and well until they started school, and then suddenly Ellie was up against the antics of all the other kid’s elves. As cute and hilarious as they find her each morning, when they come home from school — inevitably — the conversations turns to what other kids’ elves were up to. Nothing adds another heaping helping of holiday mom guilt like constantly comparing your kid’s elf to their friends. Not to mention, also comparing your mom-ing to other moms.

Logan’s elf TP-ed their kitchen, and Lexy’s made powdered sugar snow angels. But Ellie? All she did was dive into mom’s coffee cup headfirst and knock over a few of her coffee pods. Why doesn’t Ellie do this, or why doesn’t she do that? Mom? MOM? MOM?!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the joy I see in their eyes when they’re experiencing Ellie’s magic, but sometimes (read: most of the time), it just feels overwhelming. The Elf on the Shelf isn’t something many of us had growing up. It’s not that we don’t want them to have a little extra magic during the holidays, but we also don’t want to get so stressed out by something that should be joyful.

So here is your reminder: Creating magic for your kiddo isn’t a competition. Indeed, there are countless Pinterest boards and Facebook posts that make it feel otherwise. But, I hate to say it, but this is all fleeting.

Soon enough, the kids will be grown, and they will care less about whether the elf is on the shelf or not. Their problems will be bigger and less easily solved. You’ll long for the days when a note from their elf explaining the standstill was all you had to do to make it better. Believe it or not, you might actually miss their little giggles at six in the morning. Yes, even on Saturdays. And waking up in a panic after forgetting to move them from the previous day’s spot? Yeah, it will become a thing of the past.

In the meantime, don’t let yourself get wrapped up in staying on top of the latest elf-ing trends. Create your own family traditions around your Elf on the Shelf. After all, that’s what makes the little buggers so magical and joyful. And don’t be so hard on yourself. You can’t control that Lucy’s mom made a custom, two-foot, decked-out sleigh for their elf to ride in. But you can control how present you are for the wonderful memories you’re making with your kids. And those — not the elf’s daily location — are the memories that are going to stick with them for life.

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