What to do when there’s something stuck in your child’s nose

We had a bit of a saga last weekend when our middle boy woke us with his screaming. It took us 2 seconds to snap awake, and another 10 seconds to register that he had got a saga seed stuck in his nose.

My first reaction… “What??! How did you…Urgh, nevermind.”

Second was “Boys…”

By this time, the husband was deep in the boy’s nose, peering into it and muttering an expletive under his breath.

“Oh sh..seeeed”

Okay, that sounds bad, I thought. But he was relatively calm and clear-headed so I decided to take another approach — I consulted Google…and found some tips on what to do / not to do:

1) Keep calm. And blow out.

Cover the unaffected nostril and show your child how to blow out from the “stuck” nose. With young children, they may not be able to coordinate their actions well, so be calm and clear in your instructions. Say, “I will cover one nostril, then you breathe in using your mouth, and breathe out with your nose. Like this.” Then show it to him, or better yet, do it with him. Once he gets it, encourage him to blow out with greater strength.

Note: This may not work well with a child below 3 years old.

2) Don’t use a long object to poke into the nose.

You may end up pushing the object deeper in, or worse, make it go down the throat.

3) Suck it out.

If you have a NoseFrida nasal aspirator at home, try using it to suck the object out. This will be useful for a child who is younger, who doesn’t yet know how to blow his nose properly.

4) Do mouth-to-mouth.

We didn’t actually get to this stage, but it apparently works like a charm. If you’ve already followed steps 1, 2, and 3, then you’ll have nothing to lose with this one. Get someone to seal the good nostril with a clean finger, then proceed to blow into your toddler’s mouth. The offensive object should shoot straight out in a jiffy. (PS. I hope you never have to try this one out, but let me know how it goes if you have!)

5) Monitor over the next few days.

Be sure to watch for signs of infection, such as a foul smell or continual bleeding.

6) Remove all small items (seeds/peas/pebbles) in the house that lie within reach of the kids. Hide them well or chuck them away.

If everything fails, or if your child has difficulty breathing, call your doctor or bring your child to A&E. Remember to bring along some snacks and toys, to keep the little one happy while waiting.

***So thankfully, the saga seed was blown out of my boy’s nostril, after he followed his dad’s instructions. Now I love collecting saga seeds with my kids, but this event was a huge turn-off for me, and I don’t think I can bear looking at another seed for the next few months.

Has your child stuck something up their noses recently? What was it and how did you resolve it?

seed stuck in nose

Parenting from a place of enough

Parenting from a place of enough

The title of this post jumped out at me from the pages of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. (I highly recommend the book; while it is a bit technical at points, it is useful to help you understand shame and vulnerability, and how these influence the way we live, love and parent.)

Reading the phrase made me wonder if I’m parenting from a place of enough, from a place of worthiness, or what Brown calls “Wholehearted parenting.”

Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting. In terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the ‘never enough’ culture, the question isn’t so much ‘Are you parenting the right way?’ as it is ‘Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?’

In a “never-enough” culture, our children will always struggle with feelings that they are never good / smart / pretty / rich / successful enough. But we as parents can show them the way to “be enough.” By first accepting and living out this truth in our own lives.

Let’s look at what worthiness-based parenting entails.

  • Worthiness-based parents see that it is not just about academic / non-academic performance, they emphasize the whole person and is often more concerned about your character and values (your inside) than your performance and achievements (your outside).
  • Worthiness-based parents give each child room to pursue their interests and will teach them to pursue these gifts and talents because they should be good stewards over what they’ve been given. They will not groom their children in these areas just because it is a way to get them into a good school.
  • Worthiness-based parents recognise that each child is unique and is committed to helping them find their niche in life, rather than investing tons of resources to “designing” them to become the children they want them to be.
  • Worthiness-based parents emphasise and express their unconditional love for their children.
  • Worthiness-based parents practise self-love and self-compassion. They don’t beat themselves up for things outside their control and they make the best out of what they’ve been given.
  • Worthiness-based parents know that tuition centres often prey on their deepest fear, that of failure, and they try to balance this knowledge when making decisions on whether to seek external help for their children.
  • Worthiness-based parents will not bail their children out of their own mistakes, but allow them to bear the consequences of their actions.
  • They also don’t take their kids’ failures personally. They see it as a part of growing-up, and focus their energies on tackling the problem. They also use it as a valuable teaching moment, and they do their best to support their children emotionally.
  • Worthiness-based parents believe there are more ways than one to success, and they will not try to squeeze their child into any one single path. Instead they will work with their child to find his or her own path to success, based on an understanding of their child’s unique make-up.
  • Worthiness-based parents know that it is not helpful to compare their children to other people, and will resist the temptation to do so.
  • Worthiness-based parents emphasise growth and effort, over results and perfection. They also encourage their children to run their own race.
  • Worthiness-based parents will set high expectations that are also realistic, and achievable, while bearing in mind each child is made and wired differently.

Now I know this list looks hard to do, and there are times where we will fall short.

But these are things worth being honest with ourselves about, so that we can work with what we have, and know where to improve.

The truth is that we can all parent from a place of enough. We all have this worthiness-based parent in us.

In order to embrace such a “we are enough” mindset, we need to love and accept ourselves first — we can’t give away that which we don’t possess.

We also need to fight the scarcity mindset, which is the very thing that often pits us against our neighbour, colleague, and friend. As NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin recently articulated in her budget speech, “the most honest alternative to scarcity is actually not abundance, but satisfaction. It’s the mindset that says ‘Whatever we have, it’s enough. I have enough. I am enough. So I want you to have enough too.’”

To parent from a place of enough, we need to walk away from an unhealthy spirit of competition and discontentment, and lean in to a life of contentment and satisfaction.

What would you add to this list? What are the ways you practise “I am enough” mindset in your life? 

8 Essential Things I’ve Learnt From 8 Years of Marriage

We recently celebrated our 8th year of marriage by taking a day off. My mum came to help with the kids, and we took off — the entire day. We didn’t plan anything big or extra special. We just went for a prata breakfast, walked around town a bit, shopped, talked, took a tea break, and then ended with a light dinner and drinks atop the National Gallery.

With no kids around, it felt like our conversations were so adult-like, so quiet (like a mini-retreat, which is one of the things we do to keep love alive.) But it was good because we got to touch base about what we were feeling, and we got to hear each other’s struggles and fears.

I’m thankful that we’ve come so far. And I’m also aware that we have a long road ahead of us, God-willing.

Here are 8 important things I’ve learnt in our 8-year journey.

8 essential love lessons

1) Show your true self, even when it doesn’t look good

Marriage requires trust, which is probably the most difficult thing to build, and the easiest to tear down. It requires us to allow ourselves to be seen by our spouses, to be vulnerable. I don’t know about you but there are times I just don’t want to show my weaknesses and flaws; I want to present my strongest side, my best self. Ironically, the more we try to hide, the harder it is to build trust and cultivate healthy love in our marriage.


2) What we have now is better than what we had 8 years ago

Worldly wisdom tells us that most marriages tend to go nowhere but down. I guess the increasing divorce rates across the globe speak for themselves.

However, I believe it’s possible for things to get better over time – the key is hard work, a dash of humour, and lots of grace. While things can get a bit stale after a while in the love department, always remember that what you have at the end of many years of ups and downs is a marriage that is stronger to withstand trials and temptations. It may not be lovey-dovey sweet nothings all the time but it’s a love that is faithful, committed, practical and lasting. A love that helps you both become the people God created you to be. And that is a love to be thankful for.


3) The small things matter

Small acts like making him his favourite coffee in the morning, allowing her to sleep in while you take care of the kids, saying “thank you” and “I love you,” laughing yourselves silly over a joke, kissing before leaving for work, and a hug at the end of a long day – these are seemingly small and insignificant things but you’ll be surprised how they add up.


4) The big things matter too

Like keeping your word when you said you wouldn’t drink and drive, like keeping faith and not doing anything to betray his/her trust, like being there for your family whenever you can, like working to resolve unresolved issues that seem to crop up again and again.

The small things may not add up to a break-up, but neglecting them over a prolonged period of time could lead to one or both parties feeling disconnected – you know the feeling where you don’t feel like you know who you’re married to anymore – which could then lead to the bigger things. So keep your eye on the small things, while also minding the big.


5) You need to first love yourself

Brené Brown wrote about this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection and it resonated deeply with me.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

When we are unable to love ourselves, or when we hold ourselves in contempt and disdain, it’s likely we will lash out at others with the same disdain and critical spirit. But accept yourself as a human being with strengths and weaknesses, and with the capacity to grow and learn, and you will likely be more forgiving to others as well.

When I struggle with loving myself or others, I remind myself of what the bible says, “We love because He first loved us.” Jesus doesn’t love us because we are loveable, but He sees us as His own, and He chooses to love us anyway.


6) It takes a village

Every relationship needs a support network to thrive. People who have been through the good times and bad, people who will be able to give you sound advice and walk with you when you’re going through a bad patch, people whom you can trust to have your best interests at heart.


7) When he /she needs space after an argument, give exactly that

I’ve been through my fair share of pounding on his closed door and demanding that “we deal with this right now.” But it has always backfired. 100% of the time.

When the man needs his space, he needs it. Otherwise he can’t think, much less verbalize to you what he’s feeling. I think the same goes for some women too. Over the years, I’ve learnt to distract myself from the urge to push him into the corner, and just give ourselves some time to sleep on it and cool down. This, on the other hand…always works.


8) It’s possible to fall in love all over again

Over the years, she may grow naggier. He may get grumpier and more stubborn too. But it is possible to not let love stagnate and die a slow death during the winter years.

How? Break from routine, from the predictable. Do something out of the ordinary once in a while. Remind yourself of the good things, the things to be thankful for. There is a verse in the bible that says, “…whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I’m not suggesting that you create an illusion of your partner, or that you swing into extreme denial of certain faults or issues that should be dealt with. But I think for most of us, our brains are so hardwired to pick out the bad things that sometimes we need to re-train ourselves to see the good that is there.

See the good. Be thankful. And fall in love all over again.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt about love/marriage this year?

If you’d like more posts on love, check out:

- 30 ways to love your wife (SG edition)

- 30 ways to love your husband (SG edition)

- Keeping love warm

If you’ve enjoyed this post, do share it with your friends and loved ones!

Why you need to measure (and celebrate) your child’s progress

why you need to celebrate your child's progress

A friend said to me one day over coffee: Always measure and celebrate progress.

The only yardstick should be an objective view of your child’s performance in a certain area, over time. And not vis-a-vis another child’s performance.

We all know there is a lot to lose when we compare our kids to other kids. Besides, there will always be those who are more advanced, and everyone grow at a different pace. Everyone tends to be strong in certain areas, and weaker in others.

When adults slip into comparison mode, we all end up feeling crappy. What more for children who are learning new things every single day, and for whom learning often entails a degree of struggle and failure?

But you can always safely and objectively measure the progress of your child. All you need to do is observe your child and record what you see.

Here’s a short story to illustrate my point.

Early last year, JJ started piano lessons. I was hoping that he could develop a skill that was unique to him (big sister had not started on any music classes at that point).

So every week, we would trudge along to class and I would buffer some extra time before class to sit down for a bite at a cafe, and spend one-on-one time with him.

Because he was struggling with some anxiety-related behaviour, I was mindful not to put pressure on him. I told myself to just let him learn at his pace.

Through the months, I saw him grow in his skills. I mentioned to my husband more than once that whenever he was in this learning environment, where it’s fun and non-judgmental and safe, he seemed to thrive like any other child.

But as the lessons grew more technical, we hit some road bumps. I couldn’t help but notice that he wasn’t able to read the notes as fluently as the rest.

It started to get to me and it showed in my attitude. I grew impatient. I started to doubt and question myself — was it too early? Maybe he isn’t ready?

During this period, his interest waned and he kept saying that he didn’t want to learn music anymore. I think my comparing spirit and negative attitude did not help.

Finally, I told myself that if he wasn’t keen, we would quit. I honestly didn’t want to quit, especially as we weren’t even a year into it. But I also hated the feeling of forcing him to continue.

This happened around the last quarter of 2015, which was also the time when he started to show some improvement in his behaviour and emotional control. (Little progress in music, but progress in behaviour – win some, lose some.)

Since I made that internal decision to let go, I’ve relaxed a lot more. The funny thing is, he started to enjoy playing music a lot more.

It was like a 360 degree turn. So much so I was shocked at first, and kept asking him, “Do you want to stop music classes?” But the answer was always “No.”

Now, instead of grumbling when it’s practice time, he goes to the piano by himself almost every day.

In class, he now loves to be the first to go up to the teacher’s piano and play solo. Instead of shying away from the hot seat.

It’s been 15 months down the road from where we started, and he’s definitely better and much improved.

He isn’t the best student in his class, but that doesn’t matter to me.

He falters in his note-reading whenever he plays solo, but I never berate him.

I know he’s trying, and that’s all I need.

He’s showing interest, is self-motivated to learn, and has grown more confident in playing and “performing.”

And here comes the best part…I find this enthusiasm spilling over to many other areas of his life.

He enjoys school so much more now, and he loves playing rough with his best pals. Like so many other young ones his age, he struggles with Chinese. However, I notice that these days he would initiate reading a Chinese book together, or “show off” some new Chinese words he’s learnt. (We still have lots to do in this department, and I’ll have to reserve it for another post.)

At home, he shows up as a keen learner too and responds actively when I suggest playing our word card games — he recently started showing a keen interest in learning words.

I know we started out talking about music, but as I typed out this story, I realise that it’s about so much more.

His attitude…. His love for learning….His growing confidence? Priceless.

Just last week, we chanced upon a street piano at Fusionopolis; I asked him to play one of his key songs “Sleeping Beauty Waltz” and he did. It wasn’t perfect and at some points he needed some reminders, but he did play it to the best of his ability, in front of a small audience.

Through all these, I’ve learnt something.

At the end of the day, we’re not after a quick fix or an A on the report card. We’re after an attitude that our children can carry for the rest of their lives. An attitude that will help them show up well.

An attitude that says “I can do it.”

An attitude that says “I will keep trying until I succeed.”

An attitude that says “I am doing this for myself, not for anyone’s approval or acceptance.”

Attitude first, aptitude later.


When you celebrate your child’s progress, instead of comparing him to his peers, he starts to see himself as a child who is capable of learning, capable of making mistakes, and most importantly, deeply worthy of love.

When you celebrate his progress, a new courage and motivation wells up inside, and overflows out in the form of perseverance.


Dear JJ,

We saw, and we celebrated your little steps made in music. We stopped comparing, and you began to soar. Your music lesson became a life lesson for us.

I pray that you will continue to love learning, in every sense of the word, in all spheres of life.

Learning something new is often uncomfortable. And we often experience failure before success. But I hope we’ll be able to comfort and support you when you fall. It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to be afraid, and it’s okay to fail — that’s all part of the process.

As long as you’ve tried, the rest is in God’s hands. No matter what happens, know that God loves you and we do too.

Love, mama


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