Announcing our 2019 Professional Au Pair of the Year!

Nadine with her host family
January 24, 2019

We are thrilled to announce the winner of apex PROaupair’s 2019 Professional Au Pair of the Year contest:  Nadine Hahnau, a Pre-School & Kindergarten Teacher and graduate of Rhein-Maas College in Kempen, Germany.  Read on to discover why Nadine is the 2019 winner!

“It warmed our hearts to see how quickly she got along with Leni and Daniel. She developed strategies to get Leni to finish her meals and curbed her picky eating habits. She quickly read up on Daniel’s medical needs and starting working with him like a therapist.”

It only took two Skype calls—six months before her potential start date—for us to offer Nadine Hahnau to match with our family. We decided to move fast because Nadine seemed mature, organized, and professional. We were looking for somebody with those characteristics to primarily help care for our eight-year-old son Daniel, who has four-limb cerebral palsy along with hearing and visual impairments. What Nadine brought to our family in the past six months, however, vastly exceeded all of our expectations. She has turned out to be the most steadfast partner in managing Daniel’s complex needs, a patient and loving caregiver to our sassy 22-month-old daughter Leni, and a true friend to us (Nana and Joey).

When she first joined our family in Manhattan from a small town in Germany we thought she might become homesick, but she felt right at home within days of arrival. It warmed our hearts to see how quickly she got along with Leni and Daniel. She developed strategies to get Leni to finish her meals and curbed her picky eating habits. She quickly read up on Daniel’s medical needs and starting working with him like a therapist. By the end of her first month, she was singlehandedly engaging both kids in outdoor play together—a huge feat with a toddler and a quadriplegic. She was the first caretaker to ever do that.

Nadine has the uncanny ability of immediately figuring out what Daniel and Leni need, and then providing it. She does not let the small stuff slip, like maintaining their nail hygiene. The care and attention she gives Daniel and Leni is clearly rooted in a deep love for them.

Nadine with one of her host childs

Nadine is dedicated and diligent. When the family relocated from Manhattan to Washington, D.C. she went above and beyond to help us settle down in our new environment. She brought stability to our kids by organizing and setting up a safe playroom for them with familiar toys and equipment. She motivated the family to unpack dozens of boxes. She organised the kids’ bedrooms. She eased the transition with fun activities and helped them get to know their new city by arranging visits to the national zoo, museums and parks. When Leni started day-care, she spent extra time at drop offs to help her adjust. She also attended Daniel’s new school to train his aide on how to feed him safely. She collaborates with his therapists to provide continuity at home and help Daniel reach his goals, drawing on her experience working with special needs children. We are truly blessed to have her as part of our family.

Nadine and her host childs

Nadine is very creative when it comes to sharing her culture. She bonds with the kids by introducing them to German words, books and songs. She has enhanced the family’s knowledge of German cooking traditions by making delicious meals and sharing stories of cooking with her extended family in Germany. She regularly bakes delicious German desserts with the children and bonds with them in the process. She is very flexible and open-minded about our culture. She blends right in with our vivacious, American extended family. A few weeks after she arrived, we took her to a family reunion in Maryland. She engaged in the family tradition of eating steamed crabs with wooden hammers and bare hands, even though she is a vegetarian. She is always open to trying new things. She participated in a game of horseshoes involving over 20 family members, and proudly finished as a runner up—it was entertaining!

Nadine’s professionalism is remarkable, especially in her ability to tirelessly engage the children in purposeful play activities. Whether it is at a playground, on a horse farm, or museum, she always finds ways to keep Leni focused and help Daniel access his surroundings. The children are always delighted when she returns from her time off.

She is an intelligent sounding board in matters relating to the kids, and very respectful of our wishes. We share and celebrate the children’s developmental achievements together, such as Leni’s first complete sentences and advances in Daniel’s fine motor skills.

She made a huge impact in our lives! She helped us sleep train Leni, which required a lot of patience, perseverance, and optimism. Recently, she helped care for Daniel when he contracted a complicated pneumonia during the Christmas holidays. She offered to rearrange her time off to be there for him. She was so affectionate with him at the hospital that many nurses mistook her for his mom. After he was discharged, she took on the role of nursing him back to complete recovery, while engaging in after day-care activities with Leni.

Nadine Hahnau is a perfect match for our family, and a seamless part of our household. We are therefore delighted that she has decided to extend and stay with us for another year.

We want her to win all the prizes she qualifies for and unequivocally nominate her to be Professional Au Pair of the Year 2019.