Dear Mom, Forget about the Elf on the Shelf

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Dear Mom Forget about the Elf on the ShelfDear Mom,

Forget about the Elf on the Shelf.

You know who I’m talking about, right? He’s that smirking little doll that causes parents to spend time and creative juices coming up with ways to make it appear this toy commits mischievous antics in the middle of the night with the hopes that the children will be amused in the morning. But really, is there anything more frightening to a child than the thought that a little doll is tiptoeing around their house at night, making messes and breaking rules? But I digress.

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the opportunity to create lasting memories. But, my question is: what memories do you want to make? Sure, we all hope that our children will look back fondly at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony where we hold hands and sing “O, Tannenbaum.” But, if we’re not careful, perhaps the memories we are actually creating are the madness of busy schedules, being hurried from one Christmas pageant to another holiday party before they can even unzip their jackets.

Of course the holidays are filled with good intentions and Pinterest is a willing participant in showing us all those intentions…and more. Yes, homemade sugar cookies shaped like each of the reindeer are adorable. Sure, Christmas scented Play-doh would delight the kids. Of course they would enjoy an advent calendar that sends them on a scavenger hunt to find a mini-gift every night. I’m sure that eggnog made from scratch is delightful. And, yes, a house decorated like the Griswolds would make for an awesome Instagram photo opp. But give yourself permission to keep scrolling and just say no.

Thanks to Pinterest and more, we mothers are constantly faced with the opportunity to do so much, to craft and to create, to find new ways to make memories, to discover 101 different ways to play the Elf game…and to overcommit ourselves. But let’s be honest; the kids probably don’t care if Elf spilled Cheerios or wrote all over the bathroom in shaving cream (though they might be inspired to do likewise themselves). They can play with regular Play-doh that didn’t require your time (and mess) in the kitchen to create. They can eat break-and-bake cookies instead of carefully crafted cutouts. And, you know what? They will be fine. What they want more than the memories of things is the memories of you. They want time spent with you, not time spent hurrying in the car or rushing through the motions of the season. They want intentionality, focus and your attention.ElfonShelf_Sink

Here’s the thing; if you really like Elf, then have some fun with him. Likewise, if you enjoy baking, bake to your heart’s content. Just choose what you want to do and don’t feel obligated to commit to more. We can’t recreate every pin we see, nor should we try. But what we can do is choose how we will engage the holidays this year. We have the power to set the schedule and the pace. We choose free flowing or we choose frenzy.

So this holiday season, set your priorities. Give yourself permission to buy the store-bought eggnog. Let somebody else be the Griswolds this year. And, even turn down that party invitation that you don’t really want to accept anyway. Just decide to own however you choose to celebrate the season. And give yourself permission to say no, to not participate in everything, to logout of Pinterest and to leave Elf on the store shelf.

MChurchHeadCrop10_10Meagan Church is a writer, children’s book author and Unexpectant’s mom-in-charge. She lives in the Midwest with her high school sweetheart, three children, two cats and one dog. Her passions include running, black coffee, and simple, yet intentional living. Connect with her on Twitter @unexpectant, Pinterest or Instagram. To learn more about her freelance writing, visit her website

{This article first appeared in my monthly column in The Family Magazine of Michiana.}

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