If you aren't sure who the cute elf above is you are probably one of three things: The Kidless, Grandkidless, or The Grinch. The Elf on the Shelf is a 2004 book which brings to life the story of a scout elf who Santa sends to figure out who has been naughty or nice. Traditionally, the Elf heads to Santa's workshop every night to report, and then comes back to a new location in your home (input Pinterest/Facebook creativity to how you might stage your Elf.....hilarity can ensue....sometimes not appropriate for children)
The elf in our house, who arrived last Christmas, is named Sparkly Snowflake. SS (as she signs her letters) has of course become a part of our everyday living since December 1, when she arrived from the North Pole. As I am always thinking about leadership, I have put my head around how SS has transformed our home and how I might be able to access some of the positives (and avoid the negatives) from her time with us.
POSITIVE ANTICIPATION CAN CHANGE BEHAVIOR
I have been amazed at how it has transformed our morning routines. My 7 year old, who used to enjoy every bit of 30 minutes to get ready in the morning, CANNOT WAIT to get downstairs to find what SS is up to. She does all that needs to be done in 7 minutes or less!! The 4 year old follows suit (although with less vigor) and the joy and excitement has been elevated with SS as a part of our family!
COMMITMENT BREEDS ALIGNED ACCOUNTABILITY
As parents and facilitators of this tradition, we have made a commitment to each other to remind each other to MOVE THAT ELF!! This often times happens as we groggily go to bed, or better yet when one of us wakes up in a cold sweat realizing that we both forgot. When neither of those happen, it is essential to ensure aligned communication with the story we improvise to the kids about why SS didn't move (she was still hungry, she was tired, she enjoyed that spot so much she wanted to go back to it).
EXTERNAL MOTIVATORS ONLY WORK FOR A SHORT TIME.
First, this external motivator DOES NOT determine naughty or nice in our home. I think that would be the downfall if we used her to try and motivate our kids to get on the "nice" list. This too will wear off. Don't bet the bank on it!
THERE IS A CHILD IN ALL OF US
The month before Christmas in a home of children aged 7, 4, and 1 can be stressful, can be tenuous, but should really be FUN! I have to admit, I was not convinced this Elf was a good idea, but watching the joy with my girls, listening to the 2nd grader talk to her friends about it, and laughing with my wife about it has indeed brought more joy than stress to our home. It is a great reminder that this season is about the child in all of us!!
Thanks for stopping by. These are musings on how I see leadership in the world and how I continue to try and grow through my lens.