Tandem Europe participant Marta Klepo at the Final Meeting in Athens. Photo by Constanze Flamme.
Tandem Europe participant Marta Klepo at the Final Meeting in Athens. Photo by Constanze Flamme.

Tandeming with a newborn

If you have been involved in any part of the Tandem programme, you have probably heard the team and the participants refer to the whole group as the "Tandem Family". People involved feel they are more than just participating in a programme, they make things happen together. Family is also important in Tandem beyond the metaphorical level. Many of the Tandem participants start a family while they are in the programme. We now give the floor to Tandem Europe participants Yanina Taneva and Matina Magkou to share their Tandem family story, and how it influenced their collaboration.

Matina Magkou with her baby
Matina Magkou with her baby

Well, this Tandem and its story had a very clearly strong future-oriented identity from the very beginning.

Starting with Matina who was already pregnant at the partner forum, followed by Eirini, who was going to substitute Matina during her maternity leave but got pregnant too, and so we turned to the other Eirini from the local Athens team and, guess what? She was on her way to motherhood too. Then our team mentor also got a baby and we started to wonder if there was some contagious effect going on here.

A few tips

If you happen to be in our situation:

1) Arrange your working hours according to the breastfeeding and the baby’s schedule: that’s clearly the most important thing!

2) Make sure you have the support of your Tandem partner’s partner too: your project needs him/her and his/her understanding of the situation in order for things to happen at all.

3) Enjoy observing the Tandem baby growing with the project.

4) Be ready to welcome mum and dad during the placement – in our experience, this is likely to happen if your Tandem partner comes from the South or East of Europe. Relatives are a unique help and support for your Tandem partner and might be the reason why things happen at all. Cherish them!

5) Be aware that if you are the one not having kids (yet), this could be a learning moment for you, and who knows, you might love it, or you might not.

In the end, we both enjoyed the journey and its clear uniqueness. This family experience has also helped us very much in redefining effectiveness and social impact.