Monday, December 9, 2013

We Don't Do Elf on the Shelf

Confession: We have an Elf on the Shelf, but he doesn't have a name, and he just sits on the shelf (literally) all month - like part of the decor.  I'm not even sure that Sam has ever noticed him.

Be honest... Am I the worst mom?

Someone gave us the Elf for Sam's first Christmas when it was just starting to get popular.  I thought it was a cute idea, and I was (still am) glad we have one.  (At least there is a spark of hope that I will become Creative and Fun Mom one day; if I had to actually buy one myself, it would never happen.)  But, to be frank, I'm just not into it...

If you asked me why (let's pretend you did, k?), here's what I would tell you:

- I think it is a little creepy to tell my toddler that a small man is watching him all the time.

- I don't love the idea of using Santa (or an elf) as a behavior modification tool; getting gifts at Christmas isn't about how good you are... In fact, if you want to get technical, I very much want Sam to understand that Jesus came for the exact opposite reason.  (#anotherpostforanothertime)

These things are true.  I really do think them, and they do contribute to my lack of motivation when it comes to the elf.  But, let's be real here, I'm also just a bit lazy.

As I type this, it is 9:30PM on a Sunday and there is spaghetti squash all over my kitchen, my toddler is still awake, and I'm wearing the same clothes I slept in the night before. Do you really think I'm going to go build a fully-functioning airplane to hang from my ceiling fan and "hide" the elf in tonight?  Not.a.chance. #aintnobodygottimeforthat

Seriously, how do these other moms do it?

I'm not being judgmental, I'm really not.  I enjoy looking at the elf photos in my Instagram feed and am, truly, impressed by the creativity and enthusiasm of so many of my peers... I know people have a lot of fun with it, and it seems like kids really love it.... I just get a little tired and anxious thinking about it...  Am I the only mom that feels like everyone else is on some miracle-motivation drug that no one has told me about?!?! 



I admit, I've got some fears about how this might affect Sam in the future, and I'm making no promises that I won't cave to the societal pressures in the future... But, for now, here he sits... #maybenextyear #butprobablynot

How about you?  Do you do the Elf on the Shelf?   I'd love to hear your reasons, one way or the other, in the comments.

24 comments:

  1. Speaking of using Santa as a behavior modification tool...one of my favorite girls I used to teach with had "Santa" (her brother) in her phone as a contact, along with his picture...she was known to call up Santa to let kids chat with him if they were needing some extra convincing to not hit/scream/whatever. It was hysterical. And probably not the best behavior modification plan (wasn't written into their IEPs and RTI, that's for sure hahahaha) but it was entertaining and semi-successful, so we'll call it a partial win? (PS. We taught pre-k, not high school...that probably makes a big difference here!)

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  2. "- I don't love the idea of using Santa (or an elf) as a behavior modification tool; getting gifts at Christmas isn't about how good you are... In fact, if you want to get technical, I very much want Sam to understand that Jesus came for the exact opposite reason."

    AMEN!!! I've always struggled with this. Even as I take Little K to sit on Santa's lap each year, I have never once told her that Santa was real and have never put a present under the tree "From Santa." She has been asking recently about whether or not I believe Santa is real and I keep responding with "Well, what do you think?" *sigh* We do our best to keep Christmas about Jesus, not about Santa of gifts. Parenting during the holidays is hard.

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  3. I've had the same feelings as you E. We do not get gifts because we earned them, we give and get them out of LOVE! I've actually had some friends of mine do the elf and their kids find it and FREAK OUT. To where they even write letters to Santa to please take him back as he is scaring them.

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  4. I definitely am not into Elf on the Shelf either. I think I might be the only one though! I feel like the season is so busy, and it is just one more thing to detract from the real reason for the season being Jesus. I think it is cute, but basically another secular tradition taking away the emphasis from where it should be during this season. Even good things (or cute little Elves) can be bad things when they take the place of best things!

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  5. I am not an Elf on the Shelf fan either...the pictures that everyone posts of what the Elf did while everyone is asleep is cute, but what exactly is it teaching our kids? He's watching you so you better be good, but while you're sleeping, he's up to no good?! And, I agree - it's just another cute secular tradition to detract from what the season is really about. Jesus! I have not gotten one of these yet, but there is the Christmas Angel that is similar to the concept of the Elf, but is focused on the birth of Jesus. I might would be more interested in doing the Angel than the Elf.

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  6. You're not alone. My husband and I have decided not to do Elf on the Shelf with our kiddos. Without sounding too preachy, our main motivation for not ascribing to the tradition is that it doesn't do much to teach them about the spirit of giving and the reason for Christmas. Our second reason for axing the tradition is that the holidays are stressful enough without having to think of different ideas each day (let alone year after year after year). If you never start, you never have to outdo yourself or keep up with any of your kids' friends' families. We aren't fully sure what our family's "thing" will be, but it isn't going to be Elf on the Shelf.

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  7. I was laughing out loud about the airplane. How do people come up with this stuff?! This is my daughter's first Christmas and she's two months old but my mother-in-law still got her an Elf on the Shelf. We literally put it on her bookshelf with the book and that's that until we decide in a few years how we want to use it.

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  8. Glad you said it and not me >>> "- I don't love the idea of using Santa (or an elf) as a behavior modification tool; getting gifts at Christmas isn't about how good you are... In fact, if you want to get technical, I very much want Sam to understand that Jesus came for the exact opposite reason. (#anotherpostforanothertime)"

    holler.

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  9. We introduced our Elf, Blizzard, this year. Our plan is similar to yours, we use him as a decoration, but with an added twist. Instead of attempting to explain to Hank that the Elf is "watching" him to see if he is good or bad, we just play Hide and Seek with him every morning. Mike gets up and puts him somewhere fun or doing something silly and then Hank finds him and laughs. Maybe as he gets older, we can connect the Elf to our Advent traditions...there is a lot of "Pin Pressure" to come up with crazy ideas though, right???

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  10. We had this EXACT conversation last weekend. My husband teaches 2nd grade so he is VERY familiar with Elf in the Shelf. Our girls are two and under and we decided NOT to do Elf on a shelf. Maybe we will reevaluate when the girls are older and ALL their classmates have one but for now we are good with our holiday traditions.

    We did buy a children's nativity set on Amazon (seriously amazing quality and super cute) and our Daughter LOVES it. So for now I am good with her asking about "Baby Jesus mommy" and "Dis his Donkey (which she frequently calls his horse).

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  11. We do elf on the shelf, but our elf Jacob reports to Jesus and Santa. It is more about the fun of finding him in a different spot each morning and the magic, than a behavior modification tool. Whatever traditions make you happy- go for it! Jen

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  12. I'm not into Elf on the Shelf either. They didn't have it when I was a kid and I still had a great Christmas. I agree that we don't get gifts because we deserve them.

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  13. "- I don't love the idea of using Santa (or an elf) as a behavior modification tool; getting gifts at Christmas isn't about how good you are... In fact, if you want to get technical, I very much want Sam to understand that Jesus came for the exact opposite reason."

    EXACTLY! And do you really think if the children who do have an elf on the shelf are bad, that "santa" wouldn't bring them presents, it is such a terrible threat that no one would ever go through with, teaching kids so many bad morals and lack of discipline.

    I think that people who just do it for fun, and not as a tool to keep there kids in line, it's cute. I also saw something I really liked where the mom had found a different (read: non-creepy) elf and they were kindness elves that influenced the kids to something kind for someone everyday. Thought that was a great twist, but still a lot of work!

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  14. You know, I've always thought I wanted to do Elf on the Shelf when my baby is big enough, but you've just given me pause. My parents always raised me using Santa for behavior modification, but you're right-- that is most definitely NOT the reason for the season. I love this! Thank you.

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  15. I agree!!!! We have an elf too! And he just sits there. Because of EVERYTHING you just said.

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  16. We have one my daughter loves to play with but I won't do the whole thing either. I want my daughter to be good because it is expected not because some creepy little elf will tell on her to Santa. I also think it is sending the wrong message that many of the elves antics are 'naughty'.

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  17. I have no kids, but teach 4th. I have fellow teachers who use it in their classroom. Obviously, I can't teach about Jesus in the classroom, but I refuse to get one for my classroom for the same reasons you wrote. Aside from the Jesus, I agree with Hayley above! What are we teaching them when we say the elf is watching for good behavior, but then causes all kind of mischief?

    And, going along with the laziness, whatever mess the elf makes, who's got to clean it up??

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  18. The whole Elf on the Shelf craze makes me dread December. I'm actually boycotting Instagram right now because of all the pics of mischievous elves. I don't need another reason to feel like a terrible mom. We actually have one, Henry. I pulled him out on Saturday (told Saige that he only comes out once the tree is up) and already I forgot to move him. Had to make something up like "he must have liked his perspective up there on the fridge". ugh

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  19. We don't do the elf at our house either. My boys are 14 and 10, and by the time it became popular in our area, my older son was definitely too old. In fact, I thought he might enjoy sabotaging the whole concept for his younger brother. It has been fun to watch photos on Instagram and Facebook, and I wonder if some of my friends haven't quietly consulted my sons for ideas when I see their elves wrapping toilet paper around their Christmas trees.
    On a more serious note, I've learned over the years that simple works better for us during Advent and Christmas. The elf just seems to be another one of those things that becomes part of the insanity of the season, and I'm with you and everyone else here who questions what we're really teaching by using the it. We do have some fun, as well as spiritually significant customs in our household- an Advent wreath, a calendar (one that actually relates to Advent), making our handprints with fabric paint on our tree skirt each year, baking special cookies, and we find that those things, along with our seasonal church and school (band concerts, etc) programs are enough for us.

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  20. We play find the Elf and she tells us a fun activity to do related to the holiday for the day- read a Christmas book, listen to Christmas music, visit a nursing home, donate toys, you get my point. Just a fun thing for the holidays. We have the Elf and didn't get the package with the book so we could make this be what we wanted!

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  21. You're not alone! It is not a good behavior modification tool! Check out this post about why I feel the Elf should stay out of the classroom... it could also be reasons why he should stay out of your house!

    http://gypsyjulesm.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/7-reasons-why-elf-on-shelf-does-not.html

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  22. Agreed! & so glad to know im not alone with this - I was beginning to feel like I had no choice but to cave. Thank you!!

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  23. I'm late to this party, but I agree. I can see how he would be fun, but I think it's kind of creepy and I don't understand how he gets to tell on children for being bad while making mischief. We also don't use Santa as a behavior modification tool, though I will admit my three year old made me see why people do, but I agree that Jesus came for the exact opposite reason, so we say that he is an extension of that grace. He gives to use even when we don't deserve it, he gives because he loves so much, and maybe our kids will pick up on that and share that love and generosity with others. My three year old has been very focused on the idea that Santa won't come if you've been bad, I don't know where he got it from either because we have not said this in our house since we're trying to emphasize the love and grace of Santa. You could tell he was worried. It made me really sad. I also know that I would be overwhelmed and forget to move him sometimes and it just seems like it makes everything more complicated. I'd hate to be the one who ruined Santa because I forgot to move a silly/creepy doll.

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  24. Am I the only one left in the world that thinks the Elf on the Shelf is awesome? Seriously, this year it seems like I've heard nothing but hatin' on the elf, and I know that everyone has their own opinion, but geez? It's just a fun thing to do with your kids. I'm sure when the tradition of taking your children to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what you wanted for Christmas and whether or not you had been good all year came about, people had issues with that too, though. And anyone who doesn't think that using Santa as a behavior modification "tool" has obviously never been a kindergarten teacher and in a classroom full of 20 five year olds for the month of December. Yes, I know that's not the true reason for Christmas, but having your kids believe in Santa and all the fun he brings is just that...fun. It's a way to make our kids happy and make awesome memories. And you can definitely do fun stuff like the elf on the shelf with your child AND still teach them the true meaning of Christmas. My daughter just turned 2 this month, and I can't WAIT to start the elf tradition with her next year! Am I going to have it make messes around my house every night? Heck no, ain't nobody got time for that! But it's still a fun new/recent tradition that I can't wait to start with my kids.

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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