A totally unplanned week in Moscow with tiny expats, their grandmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins and 2 German Shepherds (and how we survived it).

I haven’t been blogging for quite some time (and even missed the scheduled Show Your World round up date – will deal with it asap!), because two weeks ago we suddenly decided to book tickets to Moscow. We had some things to take care of and it was the perfect time to do that – just between the jobs and before another relocation. As my mother in law lives there, it was also a great opportunity to take the kids to visit their grandmother. This decision set the ball rolling and a completely spontaneous family gathering was arranged in a matter of days.

First of all, we arranged for my mother to come to Moscow. After all, flying from Shanghai to Moscow is still closer than from Shanghai to Prague. My mom proved to be a good sport and was ready to fly on the next day.

My brother in law is also very good with quick decision making. Just as we arrived, their family of four packed the bags and went for a car ride, which would take them around 1,500km (nothing really by Russian standards).

Finally, my husband’s uncle and aunt also told us that they would be visiting us over the weekend. There was no way how our flat could fit in such a number of people, so our only option was a house in the countryside (dacha), which would have enough place for everyone to sleep and enough outdoor space to make sure the kids can run wild and make our lives a little easier.

Flying with kids. Ultimate test of parent’s patience and stamina. Our older one (almost 6 now) is already easily distracted with iPad (thank you, Apple!), drawing, eating, sleeping, watching the clouds (by the way, she told me, she imagines the clouds to be white froth on the waves in the sea, where God goes for a swim – go figure). The younger one, on another hand, who’s just 2.5 at the moment, is not that easy to take care of. It’s too exciting, which means no sleep and lots of climbing the seats and jumping around (thank you, grumpy lady in the front seat on our flight there, for making my life that little bit harder). My strategy for keeping her strapped in during take off and landing was feeding her corn biscuits and apples non-stop until we could unbuckle. The photo of both of them sitting still at the same time is not a clear representation of what happened during the flight – it’s just that moment, when I had my hands free to snap a picture.

The first few days in Moscow were actually very relaxing for my husband and myself – two grandmothers at home, lots of toys the kids forgot they had and lots of free time for us. We had quite a lot planned, paperwork and stuff, but we also managed to meet up with some friends and (as a bonus) even do some shopping. Considering ourselves almost locals (although, stretching the term a little), we haven’t done any touristy stuff. But I can at least show you a couple of snaps from our walk on Krylatskie Hills, which is a great park in the North West of Moscow. There’s a church, where we christened our little one and you actually get a nice view towards Moscow City district.

I love our Moscow dacha. It was built by my husband’s late father, who also planted lots of forest trees, bushes with berries and fruit trees, making it a great place for the grandkids to run around.

This was the first time our kids met their cousins – moving around all the time and living far away from each other, it wasn’t easy to arrange such a meeting. One of the difficult things about it was that kids got so excited that it was really hard to keep them from exploding during the first couple of days – running around, playing and laughing, would quickly turn into fighting and crying. I get enough of drama at home with my two girls, but having two girls and two boys under one roof at the same time required a different level of parenting. When they finally started to feel more relaxed around each other, another uncle and aunt arrived, making the excitement wave rise again. Perfect.

Travelling to Moscow - a totally unplanned week with friends, family and dogs. Follow our journey on TinyExpats.com!

Another great attraction for our girls on dacha always were the two great dogs living there – German Shepherds. Although, they’re guard dogs, feeling very important checking the territory for intruders, they are extremely gentle with the kids. They love having guests around, as it means extra belly rubs.

Kids loved the days on dacha. I really enjoyed being close to nature, spending time with my mom and meeting the relatives, but I can’t call that time relaxing.

First of all, as we live in a flat, our younger daughter seems to have no concept of stairs. She just rushes to them at full speed, not really planning what her next steps should be. I could’ve let her learn the hard way, but there were just too many steps and, I must confess, I love my daughter, so I ended up running after her most of the time, making sure she at least tries to be careful.

Second, although, the dogs are very careful with the kids, they don’t see them very often and I did not feel comfortable leaving our two year old with them unattended, as she always tried to pull the tail, touch the tongue or check what’s inside the ears. I felt like giving a medal to the dogs for keeping calm during this onslaught. So, I ended up doing more babysitting than I usually do at home.

All in all, we came back home with happy kids and tired parents, but I’m still very happy we did it.


  1. Welcome back. It does sound like you had a great time though. It is always like that when you are visiting. Loved seeing all the pictures! Hopefully you will get a chance to settle down soon. <3

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Taking off with very little planning…sounds like me. I love that you can do it. But you do it with panache and a cache of kids, and family. That’s doing it right. I still just don’t understand how people can travel with kids. Never fails to amaze me. But aren’t those kids going to be way ahead of others their age who haven’t traveled?

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  3. Love the pictures! My grandparents always had German Shepard’s and it was always so surprising how gentle they were with us kids. They would tear after the milkman even though he was at their house twice a day but with the grand kids they were all very gentle and patient. I totally understand the worry though because you never know what an animal will do. I get nervous with my daughter around animals because she constantly has to pester them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These dogs are incredibly smart, agree. But yes, it’s not that I think that the dogs are agressive – it’s more about my daughter being too ‘cuddly’ :)

      Liked by 1 person

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