Wichita mom writes children’s book to lift grumpy kids’ spirits

Positive Connections

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita mother is using her creativity to transform children’s’ moods when things do not go as planned.

Tomi Schwandt is a military wife, college instructor and mother of two.

“Most of the day is spent trying to get kids where they need to go, find food that the kids will eat, find my own things that I enjoy,” said Schwandt. “It’s not glamorous, but it is exactly where I want to be in life right now.”

When Schwandt isn’t spending time with her family or working, she enjoys writing.

“I call myself a word nerd,” she laughed.

For many years, Schwandt never put her thoughts on paper. That was until 2015 when she was given the opportunity to write as a volunteer for the Wichita Mom Blog.

“It just became something that I wanted to do more and find my voice, a voice I didn’t know I had until I became a mom,” Schwandt said. “I want to find a way to be a positive mom, be a positive role model and writing has kind of allowed me to do both of those things.”

It was only natural for Schwandt to turn to writing after a difficult day in 2016 with her daughter Ella, now 5.

“I finally got her down for a nap and I thought, we gotta change what is happening when she wakes up. I am not going to keep doing this. I want happy days in our family,” Schwandt explained.

That’s when Schwandt started typing on her computer. In no time, “How To Make a Monster Smile” was created.

“I read it when she woke up. She was two and a half, she could do the actions. It’s a very interactive book and I thought, ‘oh this is kind of good.’ Then, I read it to my husband and he was like, ‘that’s really good,'” Schwandt said.

Schwandt took a class on how to publish a children’s book and sent inquiry letters to publishing companies across the United States. She eventually landed with a publisher in St. Louis.

“How to Make a Monster Smile” was published in 2019 in New York City.

“I tell people it’s the world’s worst bedtime story,” Schwandt said. “It’s a book that we transform how we are feeling from the case of the grumpies which this monster has to be happy and joyful.”

KSN asked Schwandt’s daughter, Ella, what she thinks of the book.

“It makes me happy when I cry,” said Ella.

Schwandt said the book is meant to teach children and adults to take control of their feelings.

“It’s OK to be frustrated, angry. You get to have all of those feelings. You also get the power to not stay that way, so that’s is what the book is about. It is about empowering the reader to transform how they are feeling,” Schwandt said.

Schwandt has done numerous public and school appearances promoting her book. She said she hopes her book inspires children and mothers to follow their dreams.

“Share your ideas and you will never know where they will go,” she said.

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