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“Am I a Bad Mum Just Because I Refuse to Do Elf on the Shelf for My Kids?”

When it comes to elf on the shelf – you either love them or you loathe them. Whilst some parents love thinking up new mischief for their elf on the shelf to get up to each night, others couldn’t think of anything worse than taking on yet another thing at this busy time of year. Others think the concept of a doll watching your family all the time is just downright creepy. What is clear though is that if you do decide to start this tradition, you’re committing to thinking up new and creative things to do with your elf for 24 nights…for many, many years to come!

One mum of 5, already stretched to her mental capacity by two jobs, study and running a home, refused to introduce an elf on the shelf into her home when her mother-in-law and husband suggested it. After clearly stating the reasons why she didn’t want to take on another things when she was already exhausted, her husband and his mum decided that they’d go ahead anyway, and take charge of the elf positioning and letter writing each night. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t long before their enthusiasm for this task each night waned, and now they are mad at the tired mum for not taking over and ruining the magic of Christmas for the children!

I kid you not!

I’m a 39-year-old mother juggling five kids under the age of 7 while also navigating a full-time job and pursuing my PHD. To say I’m stretched thin is an understatement. Every spare moment I have is dedicated to quality time with my kids – playing games, reading, visiting the park, or simply enjoying moments of relaxation together. I want to emphasize this so it’s clear I’m dedicated to my children despite my tight schedule. I love them and wish I had more time for them.

However, the holiday season brought a new suggestion from my husband, who is on a 6 month sabbatical (42m) and mother-in-law, who is retired (64) – Elf on the Shelf. At first, I loved the idea, I didn’t do it as a child of course and it also seemed cute, but I quickly realized that committing to this tradition meant adding yet another task to my already overloaded plate. The idea of writing letters and creatively hiding an elf every night seemed fun but impractical given my limited free time.

Both my husband and mother-in-law decided to take charge of this Elf on the Shelf adventure. On December 1st, my mother-in-law read the kids a fun story about the elf and made a grand spectacle of finding it. It was adorable, and the children were ecstatic.

By day two, my mother-in-law expressed that she was tired and unable to come by every night to write letters and move the elf. She suggested that I take over. I firmly declined. This annoyed both her and my husband. On nights three and four, my husband reluctantly stepped in, already grumbling about the added responsibility. When he hinted at needing help, I stood my ground, refusing to budge.

By night five, the pressure mounted. My husband and mother-in-law confronted me, accusing me of laziness and essentially ruining Christmas for our kids. I reiterated my initial stance, emphasizing that I never wanted to undertake this Elf on the Shelf endeavor in the first place. I made it clear that if they ceased their efforts, I wouldn’t continue it either. Days six and seven passed with the elf staying put, resulting in disappointed children and and an angry husband and mother-in-law.

Reluctantly, my husband resumed the Elf on the Shelf routine, but he still views me as unreasonable and uncooperative. He called be a bad mother, lazy, and an asshole. He’s also refusing to talk to me. I can’t help but wonder if I’ve been immature, it takes less than 15 minutes a day to write a letter and creatively hide the else . But deep down, I still feel that adding this tradition is an unnecessary burden on my life. Does my unwillingness to get involved in Elf on the Shelf make me an asshole?

Of course, NOBODY in the comments section agreed with her husband and mother-in-law’s take on the situation.

NTA. They bought this thinking you would cave in and take over. How are you lazy for not wanting to do it, but he isn’t? Stand your ground and force your husband to keep it up. This was his decision. Now, he needs to deal with the consequences. (keesouth)

NTA. Maybe the person ruining Christmas is the lazy, asshole, bad father who is having a fit because he wants the elf but is too lazy to do it. (Goth_2_Boss)


NTA Why is your husband incapable of moving a small doll without your help? (Personal-Listen-4941)

NTA, but your husband is. WTF? Fuck him and your MIL for bringing this monstrosity into your house and expecting you to deal with it. Their choice, their responsibility. (Odd-Elderberry-6137)

People were horrified that the man and his mother were so oblivious to the woman’s mental load that they were expecting to add another thing for it, despite finding it tedious themselves!

NTA. it’s not 15 minutes, it’s 15 minutes every day for a month, every single year until you die. It’s the mental load of having to come up with new ideas and the drudgery of having yet another task to do when you’re already tired and over it. You knew that, which is why you said no. They also knew that but assumed you’d just take over once they started.

Don’t let them gaslight you into thinking this is on you. It’s not. I would sit them both down and tell them that they started this shit so it’s on them to see it through. Then on Christmas Day set the stupid elf on fire and tell your husband in no uncertain terms that if elf on the shelf is ever mentioned again, you will file for divorce and demand a 50/50 custody split.

Fuck. That. Shit. (Tatterededges123)


One commenter, who was also loathe to start the elf on shelf tradition, shared their compromise – ‘Deadpool on a stool!’

NTA. This is the second time before finishing my coffee that I was reminded why I don’t take this on. When my kids asked about it, we started Deadpool on a Stool. He is hired for the season to protect the house from Elf miscreants while we sleep. The kids have fun finding Deadpool when I move him, and he is allowed to keep the same spot for days on end for his steak out. (Whenitrainsitpours86)

Trying to find a way out of the woman’s current position, one reader proposed the woman take charge of ending the tradition in a way that wouldn’t spoil the magic for the children.

Easy way to solve it…write one last note from the elf, saying “My work here is done because I can see you’re very nice children, and I’ll tell Santa. So long, and keep on being good to others!”

Then get rid of the stupid elf and the stupid “tradition”. (Helen_A_Handbasket)

What do you think? Do you love or loathe elf on the shelf? Would you find it a drag or a delight?

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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