Guest post on Everything Moms
If you are not familiar with the holiday tradition of the Elf on the Shelf, you will take notice now. It is a concept so simple, yet so ingenious, that you will kick yourself for not inventing it first, (just as you do every time you shell out 5 bucks for a pack of Silly Bands)! This special Elf comes with his own book describing how he is to be placed on a shelf so he can watch your behavior and report back to Santa while you sleep. You will find him again upon waking in the morning, but always in a different spot. Perhaps the most dramatic fact about this Elf is that you can NEVER, EVER touch him, or he will lose his magical power.
This Elf has been working like a charm in our house. The kids really do believe in his magic. They are listening better, are treating each other more kindly, and if they start acting up, all I have to do is point to Will, (that is what they named our Elf) and their behavior instantly changes to sugar and spice. The Elf has also inspired hours of pretend play. The kids dress up in our random Santa hats and Christmas stockings in preparation of sitting like statues in various rooms watching our behavior like little Elf accomplices.
The Elf on the Shelf has brought us great joy in the short time we have known him. But (a BIG BUT...), behind that sweet Elf smile and his cute red suit, lie some ugly truths, which I believe should be disclosed at this time. I love this Elf, I really do, but he has caused a certain level of disruption in our home. He should come with some warning, or caution labels to parents.
- WARNING #1: If your children are of the high strung variety, you may want to skip past (or at least down play) the part about losing the magical powers if he is touched. If not, your 5 year old may frequently wake up in the night at 12, 2 and 4 AM from nightmares that she has touched the Elf and has ruined Christmas.
- WARNING #2: If you have birthed any "early bird" children, you may want to go to bed extra early during the Elf’s holiday visiting time. If your extra spirited 3 year old child can't contain himself, he may very well go from waking at 6 AM to 5 AM just so darned excited that he must bounce out of bed and run downstairs to see where the Elf has moved during the night. He will then perhaps burst from exuberance if he doesn't scream his findings at the top of this lungs (waking up high strung child #1 just as she has drifted back to sleep from all of her traumatic Elf nightmares).
- WARNING #3: If you plan to bring out the Elf in any fashion this holiday season, consider bringing him out later, rather then sooner (December 22nd for instance) Remembering to move him each night (or morning) before the early bird (see warning #2) gets up is a lot of pressure and performance anxiety for both the Elf and parent-especially if you are lacking in impulse control and he came to visit your house on November 2!
Would I use the Elf again next year or recommend the Elf for a friend? You betcha! I would however strongly suggest some story manipulation to make the Elf's visit a bit lower maintenance. If your children are already reading, I would consider bringing your Elf home without the book and make up your own Elf story to fit the unique needs of your own children (and so that mom and dad can get some sleep this holiday season)!
Happy Elf spotting!
photo from Elfontheshelf.com