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5 Misconceptions About Elf on the Shelf

Photograph by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

It's that time of year again. It's our fourth year using the infamous Elf on The Shelf. And it's the fourth year that I've heard parents on social media declare their love or hate about it.

I love it, which is really surprising because I'm not the kind of mom who goes all out for holidays. Remember, I hate Halloween.

Using the elf has really taught me a lot about my parenting style, though, and actually helps put me in the spirit of Christmas. Having a son with autism, it's great to see how much our Elfee has helped him understand the holiday.

RELATED: What I've Learned About My Parenting Style From Elf on the Shelf

This year, I've kind slacked with the Elf on The Shelf. Our Elfee sits on our shelf and serves as decor rather than the game. But every few days, I ask my son where the elf is and he likes having to find it.

Now I know many parents have very strong opinions about the elf, but I'm here to debunk any misconceptions you may have.

You have to start the day after Thanksgiving. I know that's what the book says but it's just a book. You start when you want. Some years I've started it super early. Other years I've started a week before Christmas.

You have to be super creative. Do NOT succumb to the Pinterest pressure, people! Yes, I've seen some elaborate Elf on The Shelf set-ups. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to elf ideas. Have I used any of them? No. Will I ever? Probably not. I live in a two-bedroom apartment. The elf pretty much stays in our living room on our bookcase. My elf spends his time moving from one shelf to the other— literally.

It's stressful. Um, it's an elf. Think the holidays feel stressful enough without adding this little guy to the mix? Lighten up and take a deep breath. If you forget to move the elf, just make something up. If your kids are still old enough to believe in Christmas magic, they're old enough to believe a little white lie about why the elf didn't move. Or just move it slightly to the left or right. Either way, it's fine, I promise.

RELATED: 25 Elf on The Shelf Ideas For Slackers

The creep factor. OK... this one I get, kind of. We've just seen way too many horror movies and we're a jaded society. Kids don't think the way we do. The Elf on the Shelf book is super cute (it's also available in Spanish). If you read the book with your kids and then introduce the elf, it will take out the creepy factor.

It's the wrong message for children (and parents). You've seen the meme by now I'm sure. The one with Willy Wonka that says "these kids need Elf on a Shelf to behave? That's cute. We had belt on the shelf." I am the first one to laugh off silly memes but this bugs me a little because not only is it judgy, but that's not the point of Elf on The Shelf. He's not meant to instill fear or bribe kids to behave. The elf is no different from parents telling kids to be extra good this time of year or else they'll be put on the naughty list.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's your elf, your house, your rules. Use the elf the way YOU want to. The only real rule is that the elf is not to be touched. If that's your big concern, just keep your elf on the highest shelf.

(Side note: My son touches Elfee and it's not the end of the world. The first day our scout elf arrived, I had him tucked into a tall vase on our table. My son, being the very literal thinker he is, moved him to the bookshelf.)

So don't be intimidated or put off by social media haters. Elf on the Shelf is a wonderful holiday tradition, and it's one that kids really love. You may be surprised that you like it, too.

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