Why I’m an Elf on the Shelf Mom

I never thought I’d be an Elf on the Shelf mom. My children would behave in preparation for Santa all on their own. They would eat at the dinner table properly, pick their Legos up off the floor, and never fight. There would be no bribery needed for my saintly children.

But then my oldest turned three.

And Elf on the Shelf flew into our home from the North Pole. Per Santa’s orders, of course. I was reluctant at first. I didn’t want to use Elf to bribe my kids for solid behavior. Threats shouldn’t be used to get what you want out of your kids, I thought.


 Turns out, I’m not above playing that game. So instead of fighting it, I decided to win the Elf game.

The threenager took to Elf quickly. At the beginning of a meltdown, I would simply point to Elf. Immediately, he would stop. A true Christmas miracle. I know it’s a dirty little parenting trick, but it works. I’m no longer above it. I’ll stoop as low, or lower, as any parent. I’ll point to Elf as long as my kids will believe.

And the bribery isn’t all that Elf brings to our home.

Every morning my two kids, five and three now, grab hands and search for Elf together. They whisper to each other, “Where did that little stinker go to last night? I wonder if he got into mischief again?” They tip-toe around the corners of the still-dark house to find their new little friend. They’ve found Elf inside the pumpkin buckets of their Halloween candy, hidden in the toilet-papered Christmas tree, eating Christmas cookies, and even on the toilet. There is no better way to start your day than listening to the giggles of two kids. Only to be followed by two adults snickering at each other.

Elf has also brought the holiday magic into the hearts of the grown-ups in the house, too. Every night {or in the morning because Mom and Dad forgot after a couple of glasses of wine} my husband and I begin planning where Elf will land. When we’re stumped, we head to Pinterest for some naughty ideas. And there we are, kids again ourselves.

My kids’ behavior is far from perfect during the month leading up to Christmas. But what I initially started as a tool to bribe my kids has evolved into so much more. Elf is a small ritual who has somehow turned into a big part of our new Christmas traditions with our children.

So yes, I am happy to admit that I am an Elf on the Shelf mom. That little guy brings giggles, holiday cheer, and just the right amount of mischief for the magical season upon us.

Are you an Elf on the Shelf mom?


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