"I could give you a methodical, wikipedia type answer on the definition of an au pair; but no. I think this will explain better. (this is a joke, made by me, and actually doesn't represent my totally awesome host family, but rather, au pair life in general, including real experiences from my fellow au pair friends here).
French family seeking English-speaking Au Pair Girl to be part of the family!
French family is looking for a native English-speaking female au pair to continuously take advantage of while she works for peanuts watching our unimaginably ill-mannered children.
Family consists of one obsessive compulsive father, working in international business and making loads of money while managing to maintain steadfast stingyness, whose hobbies include yelling excessively in French, spouting claims that France is the greatest country in the world, and propelling acient ideals of male superiority to his children, or anyone in earshot. Also, one mother, complete with a Prozac-worthy case of guilt over having a job rather than staying with the children and a complete lack of disciplinary abilities with said children, but, of course, outstanding fashion taste. Also, three children, aged 4, 6, 10. Four year-old boy attending French school 30 hours per week, however, seems unable to speak coherently, and instead prefers communicating through a never-ending stream of cries alternating between dog whistle-like shrieks and vomit-inducing faux sobs. Older children both attending school full time, needing to learn English, and will enjoy regarding you as a house servant not deserving of any respect.
Family is willing to pay 70 Euros per week, plus room and board, in exchange for '25 hours' a week of help. However, in reality, family will expect non-stop, 24 hr assistance should the need arise, including surprisingly regular requests for housework. Also, included in wage is 4 nights per week of babysitting, usually on demand and with no notice, regardless of your previously made plans for your free time. Additional work will be paid at 5 Euros/hour, although frequently, best attempts will be made to avoid paying this, through strategic avoidence and/or awkwardness.
If you are interested, please don't hesitate to call/email us. We ensure we will sound totally welcoming and friendly right up til you get here!"