The Great "Elf on the Shelf" Debate
For those of you still uninitiated to the ways of the "Elf on the Shelf," here's the scoop: The chipper doll visits your home between Thanksgiving and Christmas (after you purchase him, of course), and acts as a scout for Santa, letting the big guy know if the kids in the house are naughty or nice.
And each morning, to the children's delight, he appears in a new spot in the house (thanks to mom or dad remembering to move him), sometimes doing something silly — creativity is encouraged.
Some parents love him, but others totally loathe him. Where do you stand? We polled some opinionated women to lay out the debate:
1. It's sort of creepy.
"My 3-year-old daughter is totally freaked out by our Elf," says mom Katie Greer. "I think the concept of something moving around at night and landing in a different place can be creepy to young children."
2. It's another thing to add to the endless list of holiday tasks.
"It feels like Groundhog Day every morning in December when my 6-year-old awakens me with excitement," says Julie Kearns. "My current morning routine invariably starts with 'Crap, crap, crap! How can I distract her long enough to sneak downstairs and shove Chippy somewhere different?'"
"Quite frankly, it's exhausting to devise new and fabulous activities for the Elf," says mom Carrie M. Collins. "I'm intimidated and overwhelmed by my friends' Facebook posts on what they do with theirs. Thankfully, after several recent moves, our Elf seems to have found a cozy home in the attic."
3. There's pressure from Pinterest (and the neighbors Elves) to be creative.
"I feel like the Elf went from being something fun for kids to something that feels like a Clever Parent Contest," says Gina from Dynamom, who doesn't have an Elf. "I don't have anything against parents who partake in the tradition, though. It's all about your kid's joy, and we all make that happen in our own ways."
4. Some moms don't love the disciplinary aspect.
"I don't like my kids having to be good just to please the Elf or to get presents," says Greer. "I find myself telling my them 'you have to behave' for the wrong reasons."
1. The elf is fun tradition that makes Christmas special.
"If Christmas isn't magical, it's not Christmas," says mom Melanie Burke. "The little time it takes to move the Elf around is minuscule in comparison to our son's sheer excitement and awe."
2. He's helpful for reinforcing good behavior during the hectic holiday season.
"Our kids know that the behavior motivation is a part of it," says mom Anne Newsome. "But we use it more as a fun tradition. The Elf is merely supplemental to the other parenting practices we use throughout the year."
3. It's totally OK to keep it simple, and when you do, it's not a time-suck.
"I personally like the Elf," says Heather Spohr of . "We just move it from location to location — no elaborate scenarios. We emphasize that the Elf likes good behavior and good deeds, so it's not a tattletale or anything like that. I enjoy how happy it makes my kids, but no one should let outside pressure force you into doing something you won't enjoy."
4. It's fun! (Remember?)
"My husband and I have a blast engineering situations for our Elf," says mom Amy Wolff. "Thankfully, there are many parents before us who have shared their creativity online, so we borrow from their posts."
A HAPPY MEDIUM
Many moms find that when they take a step back and ditch the pressure of Pinterest-worthy ideas and an Elf-centered parenting strategy, their family really enjoys the tradition.Good Housekeeping's executive editor Meaghan Murphy (that's her family, above!) has adopted a streamlined point-of-view:
"In past years, I let the Elf stress me out," she says. "I beat myself up for not having the energy, creativity, or the bandwidth to stage Pinterest-worthy scenes for our Elf and I became a hater. Not this year. I've embraced Taco, as my three children have so affectionately dubbed him, and created our own tradition. Yes, sometimes Taco hides in the same spot (oops), but my kids hardly notice.
Video: Elf on the shelf debate!
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