The Inescapable Elf on the Shelf

It looks like we made it- the most depressing months of the year are officially behind us. It’s March already and thoughts are switching to Easter as the supermarkets fill up with chocolate eggs. Christmas is now a far distant memory…

Well, for most families it is, but not in my household thanks to Elf on The Shelf. 

It’s very much the thing to have a side hustle these days: launching your own startup, being an “influencer”, having a passion project. It turns out that my side hustle is Elf on the Shelf.

Let me explain.

Many parents will have enjoyed welcoming Elf on the Shelf into their homes in December- seeing the joy on their child’s face as they revel in the mystery and wonder of Christmas and their magical pal who gets up to all kinds of fun and mischief while they sleep. The accepted story is that as Christmas day comes and goes, the Elf will sadly lose his magical power and things will return to normal. Except in my house, apparently.

This particular issue started- as many things do- during the school run. After we finished our usual conversations (“what’s for lunch?”, “where does the sun go to sleep?” and “when the cats go to heaven, can I get a dog?”), I was presented with the trickiest question of all.

“Daddy – so you know Elf On the Shelf? Is he not magic anymore?”

“That’s right sweetheart – his magic will come back in December when it’s Christmas”

“But, just because he has lost his magic, it doesn’t mean he can’t do things like have breakfast, play with my toys, does it? He can help you work, can’t he?”

The car filled with silence as my brain tried to figure a way out of this well thought-out trap from my six year old.

I took a deep breath and began my defence unsurely.

“So, you know that most of the year, Elf is just a toy? That means that when he loses his magic, he can’t do anything magical anymore. You can play with him, but he can’t do stuff on his own.”

“Well, why do toys come to life in Toy Story when the children leave the room then?”

“That’s just a film – toys don’t really come to life when you leave the room or go to school. They just wait patiently for you to come home and play with them.”

“I think Elf gets lonely when I’m at school. So, it’s really important that you look after him……”

I read a book once that says silence is a key negotiating tactic. I remained silent. 

My daughter continued “While I’m at school today, I need you to make sure he has his breakfast, then he can help you on your conference calls, then make sure you give him lunch, then he will need a sleep afterwards and as he’s only little please tuck him up in his sleeping bag. Oh, and if you want, he can come to the gym with you and do some exercise”

That book I read lied – keeping quiet doesn’t work.

“Daddy – did you hear me?”

I keep employing the silence tactic but it doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect.

“Daddy, can do that for me? Yes? And I need you to take LOTS of photos so I can see what he has been up to, ok?”

So there you have it – my daughter prevailed (and is destined for a career in hostage negotiation for sure). I have spent the past few months as a personal assistant to both my daughter and my elfin side hustle (who is giving me that knowing sideways glance as I write this).

To any parents out there who are in the same boat and want to set up an Elf on the Shelf facilitator support group, please contact me. I can’t do this alone.