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The single mom’s guide to survive elf on the shelf

Let’s face it, certain aspects of parenting are easier with two people. For instance, a tooth has been lost and universal expectations have been set that said tooth will disappear and be replaced with money.

Recently, my sweet girl lost one of her front teeth at school, but left it on her desk. The next day, she brought it home and placed it in the special “Tooth Fairy Pillow.” Due to the delay between initial loss and insertion into special pillow, the tooth slipped from my mind.

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The following morning, I entered my daughter’s room to wake her up for school. It went something like this:

Sweet girl: “Mommy! The Tooth Fairy!”
Me: “Oh, yeah, the Tooth Fairy!” Son of a bitch, the tooth!
Me: “Uh, we’re running late, so can you please get dressed and go potty? Then we’ll see about your tooth.”
Sweet girl: “Oh…okay.”

Off she goes to the bathroom. Because sweet girl is awesome.

Hm, that actually worked? Good thing I keep extra Tooth Fairy money in my underwear drawer.

I sneak off and miraculously remove the tooth and stuff a $2 bill into her special pillow. Whew. Crisis averted and the Tooth Fairy still lives.


Then there’s the damn Elf on the Shelf.

It’s Christmas time, which is always a bit depressing when you feel like an “incomplete family,” but to make it worse, you have to remember to move that Elf.

Sweet girl is the greatest kid in the world, and there’s no way I’m going to be the monster that takes away her Christmas spirit. So our Elf, aka Mr. Wiggles, comes out the day after Thanksgiving and does his best to get into all sorts of shenanigans.

Having to remember to move an elf every night is nearly impossible. Especially when school nights usually look like this:

Come home around 6pm, let dog out, attempt to eat something healthy for dinner, do homework, play with dog, do dishes, make lunch for tomorrow, take a shower.

Crap! We forgot to do the other side of the homework sheet. Dang it, kid, stop loitering and finish up! It’s almost 9pm!

No! Stop playing with the dog and get into bed!

Aw, double crap! We forgot to brush your teeth! Hurry up and get out of bed. So you can get back into bed!


After sweet girl is in bed, wouldn’t it be nice to get all cozy in my own bed, read a few chapters of a good book and fall into blissful sleep?

Unfortunately, it’s more like this:

I’m so friggin’ tired. Bed feels so good right now. Why is my alarm going off on my phone? “Move Mr. W.” Aw, shit! The damn Elf! Son of a bitch, where the Hell am I going to hide him now?? Okay, when was he in the kitchen? Right, he got into the peanut butter jar yesterday. Have to find a new location…

Me: “Hey Siri, where can I move Elf on the Shelf?”
Siri: “Checking my sources. Okay, I found this on the Web.”
Um, these websites all suck! What is the point of this stupid phone!??! GAH!

Here, Elf, hang on the ceiling fan for 24 hours and don’t fall off. I can’t promise the dog won’t eat you if you do.

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Mr. Wiggles vs. the vacuum cleaner


Parenting is not for wimps.

I’m going to repeat that in case you are speed-reading: parenting is NOT for wimps. It’s exhausting, heartbreaking, painful, and a ton of other disheartening adjectives.

And so I’m here to give you other single moms a few Elf on the Shelf tips. That way the damn Elf is the easiest part of your life this holiday season:

1. Open up a box of cereal. Put Elf upside down in cereal. Voila! “Pig Elf” eats you out of house and home.
2. Stick Elf on windowsill where he can dream all the big dreams.
3. Put Elf in backpack on weekend nights. Have him peek out of the top zipper.
4. Make Elf do a puzzle or color.
5. Place Elf behind TV so he’s watching you.
6. If kiddo is into baby dolls, surround Elf with them. Now he’s the ultimate ladies’ man. (This probably works with super hero action figures, too. Because, hey, it’s a non-gender world out there.)
7. Make Elf ride a stuffed animal.
8. Put Elf in a large bowl with tiny marshmallows. Then he can enjoy a “bubble bath.” Maybe with one of those ladies (or super hero dudes) – totally up to you.


Being a single mom really sucks sometimes, but IT’S OKAY. It’s okay if the house isn’t as clean as you want. It’s okay if you can’t afford organic food all the time. It’s okay if you buy most of your clothes off MICIT on Facebook.

It’s all okay because you are the Super Mom to your Super Kid. Your child won’t remember how clean and perfect the house was when she gets older, but she will definitely remember the special moments you spent together. So don’t beat yourself up over the little things, just do the best you can. Oh, and try to remember to move the damn Elf.

Share your own Elf on the Shelf tips below or on Facebook at MothersRest.


About the guest blogger: Sarah, my amazing friend, is a classically-trained singer, dog aficionado and mom of a red-haired, French beauty. She remarried her ex-husband (and sweet girl’s baby daddy) this past summer. You can read her journey about rediscovering lost love – in this post: That time I married the same guy TWICE. She’s looking forward to sharing the Mr. Wiggles duty with her husband this Christmas.

You can also read her thoughts on the excitement of visiting the gynecologist – in this post: Time for a little (woohoo!) fun at the lady-doctor.

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