We love this mom’s take on the return of the Elf on the Shelf! Her kids aren’t just playing along with the elf, they are playing the part.

Mom Whitney Carswell posted a photo to Instagram of her two little ones dressed up like Santa’s helpers… and in quarantine.

“Just arrived in the mail! They are BACK! 14 days ahead of the schedule to quarantine!” she wrote, along with hashtags like “#responsibleelves” and “elfontheshelf2020.”

data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);">

Her little elves are snuggled up in a box labeled, “Quarantine Area,” with the message from Santa that reads, “Elves traveling from the North Pole must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

They’re also accompanied by some useful gifts from Santa, like toilet paper and Lysol spray.

If your family takes part in the Elf on the Shelf tradition, you might want to take a note from Carswell. When you break out your Elf from storage this year, feel free to set him or her up in quarantine. The elf could be a helpful tool as the kids process the reality of the pandemic. If your kid child your elf needs a mask, or suggests that Santa’s helpers are quarantined, don’t stress, mama. Your kiddos are just processing this stressful event in the most natural way.

As Leela R. Magavi, an adult, adolescent and child psychiatrist and the regional medical director for Community Psychiatry recently told The Washington Post, “rather than directly speaking with their parents about sadness, anxiety and anger due to covid-19, children may express their feelings by using their trusted toys.”

Experts suggest that kids are likely to add elements of the pandemic to pretend play, and that imaginative play related to the pandemic can help kids feel more in control. If talking about how the Elves and Santa are social distancing helps kids feel more grounded in this stressful year, we might as well play along.