About twenty years ago, Brigitte Cassigneul’s life changed dramatically, on the verge of retirement. Her husband suddenly dies. “I was 59 years old, she confides to us. As he was also my employer, I was suddenly laid off. It was a real tsunami.”
However, Brigitte refuses to let go and does everything she can to try to get out of it.
“So I decided to look for “missions” in all directions, and that’s how I thought of being an “au pair granny””, continues the retiree.
Today, Brigitte Cassigneul is 78 years old and a life full of memories, gleaned from all over the world during her missions. Because no, au pair life is not just for young students!
“There is a demand all over the world,” explains Brigitte, who speaks English and Spanish. Initially, however, she struggled to find her first contracts. “Being urban, I didn’t want to go to the countryside,” she tells us. Her assignments generally last several months, no more. 6 months, renewable”.
Brigitte is a follower of the “half-pair” system, that is to say that she agrees to work for the home about 20 hours a week, in exchange for room and board. “And I pay for my trip!”, assures the septuagenarian. The situation allows him to afford a significant additional income. “I have no food costs, and as I am housed, I can rent the duplex which I own in France, and that allows me to “double” my income.
But recently, Brigitte had the chance to be offered, in addition, remuneration for her services as an “au pair granny”. “After the first confinement, I accepted a 30h/week mission for 200 euros per month, because the contract and the conditions were interesting (I was housed in a very beautiful modern architect’s house)”.
But above all, this activity is an opportunity for Brigitte to experience new adventures. “It allows me to see people, and to feel useful”, explains the retiree.
“The only limit is “fear”, a very French disease. For an active person, most often a woman over 60 (but men find jobs with a do-it-yourself dominance…), it’s a great solution!”
India, United States, Germany, England… The septuagenarian has visited, thanks to her activity as an au pair granny, many countries, and met just as many families.
A few months ago, she left for southern India. “I would never have thought of going to India on my own, because I am not very attracted to Asia, but the conditions were good: I was housed and fed in independent accommodation, my trip and my visa were paid for and I received 200 euros per month just to be a “repetiteur” for an 11-year-old child (no cooking, cleaning or shopping)…”. She even recounted her adventure on a blog.
Of her missions, Brigitte keeps (almost) only good memories. “Almost all my stays have been pleasant,” she says. “But once, in France, I was kicked out after a week by a father who was a real “narcissistic pervert” and morally martyred his wife. He even filed a complaint against me.”
In France, where she has always lived with internationals, the retiree keeps her habits of “citizen of the world”. “I thus met more than a hundred people in all, and of more than 20 different nationalities”, she specifies.
Today, however, Brigitte wants to find a quieter life. “I would like to become a biographer to complete my retirement without too much fatigue. I feel like I’m in the “fourth age”, over 75, because I’m getting tired and I need calm. Thanks to my huge address book and contacts, I also help women find pension supplements”, adds the septuagenarian.
In terms of an au pair stay, Brigitte did not accept just anything. She held to a few criteria, in particular concerning the children for whom she will be responsible. “They must be over 7 years old, because I am not comfortable with babies, and too young ones are tiring for me”.
She also makes sure beforehand that the children are well brought up. “By email and on the phone, I make sure that we, the parents and I, have a few common educational principles: a minimum of politeness: hello, goodbye, please and thank you, and a behavior that means that we tidy up what we disturb!”.
She then negotiates her contract according to the following terms:
She specifies: “I also ask for a very precise written document before taking my ticket, and depending on the case, I ask for reimbursement by train (in first class) for the return. I also advise women who want to start having a trusted third party or, even better, go through an agency”.
To find her missions, Brigitte recommends the following platforms:
– aupair.com “Both are chargeable and very effective,” says the retiree.