My name is Tom Kreffer, and I’m the author of Toddler Inc., the third book in my Adventures in Dadding series. It’s a series that explores what parenting is really like from a dad’s perspective. I achieve this through journaling.
Every day, I sit down and reflect on my role as a parent, and I write. Sometimes it’s about funny things that have happened that day, or the not-so-funny things, like when my toddler, Arlo, fell down the stairs. Or his introduction to a nursery setting – something I found emotionally excruciating as a parent.
If a parenthood-related thing has made my day awful, I use writing to redistribute my pain and give readers something to laugh about – almost always at my expense!
When your central character is a toddler, you never know what parenting has in store for you as you start the day. Often, that day begins before 5 a.m. – a bona fide tragedy in my house.
Why I Became an Author
I’m often asked what catalyst or trigger point led me to write about my experiences as a parent. But the truth is the whole thing was a fluke. My partner and I were having trouble conceiving our first child. Doctors said my partner would need invasive surgery to remove at least one of her fallopian tubes, and we were also on a waiting list for IVF treatment.
But before we received her surgery dates in the post, she fell pregnant. I was so taken aback by the news that I was going to become what I had wanted so badly to become – a daddy – that I didn’t know what to do.
So, for reasons I’ve never been able to explain, I sat down a few hours after reading the pregnancy-test results and wrote in my journal. I addressed the entry to my unborn child, and I somehow maintained that practice as a daily habit for the duration of the pregnancy.
And that became my first book, Dear Dory: Journal of a Soon-to-be First-time Dad, the story of pregnancy from a dad’s perspective.
When Arlo was born, I saw no reason to stop journaling. Writing helped me process the seemingly unlimited aspects of fatherhood, and having an outlet to make sense of them all helped me navigate this huge, scary territory we call being a parent.
Those entries turned into Dear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding and became my second book, covering the first year of my son’s life.
What is Toddler Inc.?
Toddler Inc. covers year two as I document my son’s transition into that famous stage of a child’s life, toddlerhood. Toddlers are incredibly fascinating beings, and having a front-row ticket to see Arlo develop into one as he explores the world he inhabits is priceless, not to mention fascinating. Here’s the Toddler Inc. blurb:
Toddlers are savages.
They scream, shout, rebel, slap, destroy, throw food and purposely withhold their love and affection – just to watch your soul snap and your spirit shatter. And all before 8 a.m.
And yet, they’re also misunderstood creatures: funny and beautiful – endearing little marvels that brighten up your day. But mostly they’re savages.
The Adventures in Dadding series continues with this highly entertaining third entry, captured by one dad and his journal. Blunt, honest and absurd – this is Toddler Inc.
What Can Readers Expect in Toddler Inc?
As I’ve said, my books are made up of daily journal entries, and Toddler Inc. is no different.
The self-imposed rule is that as long as what I’m talking about links back to parenthood, I can write about anything. This gives me a sense of creative freedom that writers don’t often get to enjoy. And it’s one I’ve exploited a lot in Toddler Inc.
Some chapters are written from Arlo’s perspective, about what’s going on in his head when he goes about a particular task, like trashing the furniture. Those chapters were a lot of fun to write and tested well with readers.
Other times I’ll try and explore life lessons that are critical for all of us to learn.
In all my books, I include an annual letter to Arlo about the biggest lesson I learned that year. In Toddler Inc., my letter is about time and how I think about it as a parent. I want to spend as much time as possible with Arlo, but I also have needs and commitments that require my attention. I’ve always wrestled with where and to whom I allocate my time. I’ve yet to meet a parent who can’t relate to that.
What’s It Like to Raise a Toddler?
I don’t know how my toddler compares with others, but Arlo is always on the move. It’s like he’s programmed to not sit still. When he wakes, he’s ready to go at life full throttle, and he expects me to match his pace and thirst for adventure.
The thing that still baffles me is that I’m someone who prioritises self-care. I work out, I go to bed early, and I eat well. I do all the things that health experts advise us to do. And yet, every day, I’m outgunned and outpaced by a being a fraction of my size.
No one said parenting a toddler would be easy, but I feel like I’m constantly running the final mile of a marathon. Dragging my feet forward so I can reach the finish line – or my bed – only to rest up to do it all again the next day.
But it has been the most rewarding stage of parenthood so far. Seeing his stability increase as he learns to walk, observing him learning new words and expressions – the returns negate the exhaustion. Well, most of the time!
There’s a chapter in Toddler Inc. about the rain, which I love. One morning, Arlo took himself off to his bedroom, dragged his bookcase over to the window, climbed up on it and sat on his own watching the rain. It is one of my few memories of him being awake but still.
How do you approach parenthood?
I sum this up perfectly in Toddler Inc. I say, referring to myself and my partner:
‘We do the best we can with what we’ve got, accepting that winging it at times is unavoidable and that expecting to get every choice and decision right is a delusion.’Toddler Inc by Tom Kreffer
If there’s a parent out there who has a better approach, then please get in contact and tell me what your secret is.
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