It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unless that is, you have an Elf on the Shelf that is coming to visit your house anytime soon.
Children love them, parents hate them (well, the majority) - 24 whole days to find creative ways to keep your little ones amused while your elf pops up in unusual places.
I managed to avoid the elf for a number of years, but two years ago Tiny Tim the Elf arrived. He was here to keep the children in check and report back to Father Christmas should they misbehave. To be fair, my two are fairly good, but I imagine that if you have a little one that is heading to the naughty list, the elf can work wonders. Or at least that’s the plan.
Each morning when my children wake up, Tiny Tim has moved. The children then have to run around the house trying to find where he is and what he is doing. He may be hanging out with Barbie, playing snap with toy dinosaurs or making a snow angel in self-raising flour on the kitchen floor - strangely he never was on a shelf. The more mess he’s made, the more my two love it. The first week (ok make that four or five days), I have the best intentions that Tim will be found in exciting places, keeping the children on their toes and best behaviour. No coal will be delivered to this house on Christmas Day, thank you. But - and this is where the problem lies, it only takes a night out on my part, or a couple of gin and tonics, for me to wake in a panic at 3am, or worse. For the children to wake early and realise that Tiny Tim hasn’t moved.
That’s the other problem with Tim and his elf crew. He actually makes children wake earlier. When you have little ones, your aim in life is to get them to sleep in as long as possible. Before children, being awake at 7am at the weekend was unheard of in our house - being awake before 10am was good going. But now we are used to early mornings (yeah right), the children actually wake up even earlier BECAUSE THEY WANT TO FIND TIM. This definitely doesn’t work if I’ve been out, getting into the Christmas spirit.
Then there is the problem of Tim’s extended family wanting to visit. My children have asked for a girl to keep Tim company... but it’s hard enough finding ideas for one elf, let alone two - I know other parents who say that their elf is running late to bide them some time! Clever or sneaky? You decide. Either way, here are my top 5 tips for surviving Elf season.
1. I’d be lost without Pinterest once Tim has moved in. Some people are very creative, so steal all their ideas and pretend they are yours. My favourites include the Elf pooing chocolate drops (although you have to remember to buy them first) and the classic, shove the Elf in an empty (clean) wine glass with a straw.
2. Set up an Elf Whatsapp group with your friends. This has two purposes. One, it is a fantastic way to remind each other when it’s ‘Elf time’ each evening and two, to share your ideas. When I say ‘your ideas’ obviously I mean the ones you’ve stolen from Pinterest but pretend are your own!
3. If the elf has forgotten to move due to your late night out, a quick trick is to throw him as far as you can. It’s quick, easy and effective. Don’t underestimate the grab and throw. Although you won’t find that on Pinterest.
4. Don’t peak too soon. If you start day 1 with Elf abseiling down the stairs with tinsel, your children are going to have high expectations for the next 23 days. You can always ramp it up, so start simple.
5. Remember it is only 24 days. Yes that’s a long time to keep your elf and children entertained, but the pay off is that you have well-behaved children for nearly the whole of December. Or that’s the plan anyway.
When I’m not busy playing hide and seek with Tiny Tim, I run Mumala Club, the online networking hub for fab mums who are their own boss. In a recent poll on Mumala Club, I was surprised by the amount of members who didn’t have an elf knocking on their door on 1 December. Reasons included that they don’t have the time or energy or creativity for an elf. So whether you love your elf or hate him, once he’s come to visit, he will keep coming back each year, like a winter cold. So I’ve accepted that I’m in this for the long haul. Tiny Tim, I’m ready for you.