Ultimate Au Pair Finalist, Danielle from the United Kingdom

Ultimate Au Pair Finalist, Danielle from the United Kingdom

Chosen as one of 8 finalists, read about the Clayton Family from North Carolina and why the love their au pair Danielle, or 'Dani Poppins'!

It is an honor and privilege to nominate our au pair, Danielle Lea, for the 2014 Ultimate Au Pair.

When the contest email first arrived stating 'Is your au pair better than Mary Poppins?' "It brought a smile to my face because Danielle is truly our Poppins. Being from the UK we gave her the nickname of 'Dani Poppins' during our initial interview. At the time we thought it was just a cute name and a way to break the ice. The name stuck so much that her stocking is monogrammed with "Poppins" and people believe this to be her true last name. We couldn't have imagined just how much she lives up to and exceeds the Mary Poppins standard.

We couldn't have imagined just how much she lives up to and exceeds the Mary Poppins standard.

We are the Clayton family consisting of myself, Lisa, my husband Will, and our daughter Kennedy, now just a year. Joining our family was quite the leap of faith for Dani as she is well travelled and a city girl at heart. Being used to the hustle and bustle of city life as well as having previous nanny experience for a family of three vibrant children in Australia; our family posed quite the cultural experience as we live in a rural suburb of a mid-sized city and were just starting our family. We are eternally grateful she took a chance on our 'country town' and us.

Being a brand new mom, there were times when juggling a full time job and the demands of a newborn were daunting both emotionally and physically. Every single time without fail when I was at the end of my rope, Dani was there to rock our crying infant to sleep, surprise us with a homemade dinner, or organize some part of our home that had been neglected. One particular story that exemplifies her patience and natural baby whisperer abilities stems from a trip to the Caribbean only weeks after Dani joined our family. We were on our way back from a wonderful family trip to the Caribbean when we were confronted with an international airport, no air conditioning, a three hour wait to check luggage, a screaming infant, and airport security who were not understanding to the needs of flying with an exclusively breastfed baby. When my husband and I were at our wits end with the situation, Dani stepped up without complaint or worry of her own unmet needs to calm Kennedy and help us navigate this unfamiliar territory. Her maturity and previous experience helped diffuse a situation that was rapidly heading towards combustion.

Dani has been my guardian angel during the transition into motherhood. Being new parents, my husband and I don't have an established parental framework to base our parenting decisions off of. Dani has been very considerate to this fact and is always seeking sit down meetings to ensure the three of us are all on the same page to create consistency for Kennedy. Although always willing to offer advice and ideas for problem solving, Dani is very respectful to our decisions as Kennedy's parents. Dani goes above and beyond in all aspects of her role as an au pair. She is always planning playdates, creating homemade toys, or planning day trips to the museum or local zoo. On a daily basis, she helps ease the sting of leaving Kennedy by sending us photo and video updates of their day together. Dani is so good at documenting her and Kennedy's time together, she has become our unofficial family photographer. We laugh as we looked back over the pictures taken of Kennedy this past year and realized that when Dani was on vacation we actually had no pictures to commiserate Kennedy's first Thanksgiving. Not having this event documented was unacceptable to Dani and as a surprise to us, one day while I was at work; she recreated pictures of Kennedy in her thanksgiving outfit.

Dani not only goes above and beyond for Kennedy, she does for the entire family. She has spent countless hours in her off time doing things for our family. From helping my husband pull off a huge surprise birthday party for me, writing hand written thank you notes for each Christmas present she received, to creating an amazing scrapbook of our first year together. Dani loves in a deep and meaningful way. We are so fortunate that she chose our family to love for this past year and we are looking forward to what next year has in store during her extension.

Kennedy adores her Dani Poppins and knowing how much Kennedy and Dani love each other solidifies welcoming Dani into our family was the best parenting decision we could have made.

Read stories from other Ultimate Au Pair finalists.

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