I LOVE the Christmas season; It gives me strong Christmassy vibes at the first sign of a snowflake. The magic, the smells, the family time, and the joy it brings the kids. Having said that, I also find it to be a stressful time. Like many moms, I feel the burden from the most wonderful time of the year.

This is the first year that I have considered Elf on the Shelf. My daughter is now at an age where she’ll hear stories from classmates about the shenanigans their Elves are getting into. As an Elf newbie, I am considering whether I want to bring this relatively new tradition to my family. I just don’t know if I’m one of those families—an Elf family. 

This time of year, my sanity hangs like a heavy Christmas ornament on a floppy tree branch. The season is labor-intensive and stressful, and busy. You’re probably thinking I’m the Grinch. Maybe, just maybe, I’m a busy mom who isn’t sure I can manage Elf on the Shelf. Even though I want to, I just don’t know whether I can take on another daily task that involves creativity, props, and another item on the to-do list. To Elf or not to Elf, that is the question.

So I did what any over-thinking mom would do, I made a pros and cons list.

Elf on the Shelf pros and cons list:
  • Pro -It brings joy into the household:  I want to bring that magic and fun into my house during the Christmas season. I want to see the joy on my daughter’s face when she sees the Elf mischief each morning.
  • Pro- It’s a parenting right-of-passage: One of the benefits of social media is that we get an opportunity to share good memories, and Elf On The Shelf is one of those things. We see our feeds filling up daily with Elf high-jinks, funny stories of how moms almost forget to move him, and Elf tips & tricks. Elf-moms have other Elf-moms backs when it comes to needing advice.
  • Pro- It’s creative:  Some moms get very creative, and that can be wonderful. There are 24 days of shenanigans for an Elf to get into!
  • Pro- It keeps the kids inline:  A simple way to ensure the kids stay on their best behavior all month long, the Elf is watching. 
The downside of Elf on the shelf:
  • Con- It’s controversial:  I’ve read a lot about the psychological effect of Elf on the shelf; it turns out it’s hugely controversial. Many moms struggle with the idea that an Elf is watching over their kids, and the motivation for good behavior all month long is based on a make-believe Elf. That’s a fair argument, but it still isn’t the basis of my hesitation (I’m not above bribery).
  • Con- Does it still bring joy if I feel burdened? The magic over the Holidays only works if we can do it with enthusiasm. If we genuinely feel the joy, not the stress of it. 
  • Con-Once you start, you can never go back: What if I forget to move it? What if I make a rookie mistake?  Sure, Pinterest is full of ideas and ways to get yourself out of an effing error, pardon me; an elfing error. But that alone takes effort- writing elf letters, broken legs. Do I want to make an Elf leg cast? (no, I don’t). Do I want to manipulate my handwriting to impersonate an Elf’s (nope) Do I want to create complex plot lines to keep the story going all month? (again, it’s a no)
  • Con- It’s creative: There are 24 days of shenanigans for an Elf to get into. That’s a commitment.
  • Con- It feels like a competition:  Sometimes it can feel as though posting daily Elf naughtiness is just a way to try and outdo one another. It couldn’t be a competition of Elf shenanigans, could it? (It could)
There you have it.

My self-care comes first. To be a good parent, a happy and enthusiastic parent, I need to set boundaries. I need to ensure that I don’t take on too much and burn out or feel resentful, which can quickly happen at this time of year. So, I asked myself one crucial question:

Does my child’s happiness over the Christmas season depend on how creative I get with an Elf? 

It absolutely does not. Children find magic in the simplest of things. Having a parent who doesn’t feel too stretched to enjoy those simple things with them. Carefully weigh your mental health vs. Elf on The Shelf.

We will get an Elf that will visit on weekends only. Friday and Saturday nights, the Elf will return from helping Santa and visit. The weekends when I’m more relaxed, and perhaps have enjoyed a glass of wine and am feeling a tad more creative. I can manage that.  It’s yet to be determined whether I’ll share any high-jinks on the ‘gram. If I do and you see my post know this- it’s not an Elfing competition, so manage your self-care before your elf-care.   

Post updated for 2023. 


Jennifer is a Toronto girl at heart who is now living in Hamilton. She is the owner of Hats of Hardy and the mum to a beautiful and bright little girl.

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