Moscow Weekends (and how to rest)

How do you usually spend your weekends?

For economist husband and I, with our ever-shifting work schedules, weekends off together are rarer than we’d like them to be. At the moment we average between one and two weekends off of work together per month. By the time Saturday rolls around, we’re usually so exhausted from the week’s long office hours that we spend out precious vacation time sleeping in, doing laundry, and maybe getting together with friends if we have enough energy.

This weekend, however, we decided to do things a little differently, and went to visit friends from another city (about 300 km away from Moscow).

The logistics of travel in Moscow are significantly more complicated and stressful than what I’ve been used to growing up in suburban America. Moscow traffic jams, especially on beautiful spring and summer weekends are relentless. Drives that should take 45 minutes can last up to five or eight hours, meaning that all the rest you get from relaxing at your dacha is erased by a long, tense commute. Our strategy, then, is to drive in the middle of the night.

So, on Friday, after getting home from the office at 12:30 at night we lay down for a little over two hours of rest, then woke up in time to throw some weekend clothes in a bag, and get on the road between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning. It took a bit of careful planning, and we were exhausted by the time we arrived, but after a long morning nap at our destination we woke up in time for a delicious shashlyk lunch and great day of fun with our friends.

Now, on Monday we’re both tired (especially economist husband, since he’s the only one with a driver’s license here, and I got to sleep most of the way there and back!), but paradoxically, we’re completely refreshed. The weekend, despite all the hassle of planning and driving, and weird sleeping hours, was so much more rejuvenating than it would have been if we’d stayed put in the city, and ‘done nothing’ all weekend. Fresh air, a change of scenery, delicious Ukrainian cooking, berry picking, long walks, and hours of talking and laughing with our friends so revitalized us.

It made me think of this article by Laura Vanderkam on the paradox of weekends:

“…here’s the paradox of weekends: because we work so hard all week, and spend a lot of time running around, we think we want to “do nothing” on weekends. So we don’t make plans. But what that winds up looking like is a lot of chores and errands and puttering around the house…deciding to do something, but because it’s last minute you’re throwing it together, and doing whatever’s easiest, instead of what you really want to do. When are you going to do all those fun things you intend to do someday? Just on your vacations? We get 60 hours between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday. There’s time in there to pluck plenty of items off your List of 100 (or 1000) Dreams. Doing things that you’ve long wanted to do is energizing in its own right. Just because a weekend isn’t relaxing doesn’t mean it isn’t rejuvenating. I feel like I’ve “recreated” more having spent my time in the hills than I would have sitting at home.” – Laura Vanderkam

Do you agree? Have you experienced anything similar with your weekends lately? How do you usually rest on your days off?

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4 Responses to Moscow Weekends (and how to rest)

  1. Phyllis says:

    Gave you give any update on how those friends are doing?

    (Mothers don’t get days off, so I can’t answer your questions. 🙂 )

    • The friends are doing very well – Ivan has been fighting gout this spring, but was doing much better when we arrived. The house was actually relatively empty – all the kids were off at different summer camps, so it was pretty quiet. We just love seeing them – what a great family!

  2. I think they got it last spring/summer…It’s great, with a yard and huge garden, and – as you might imagine – constantly full of people 🙂

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