“What DO you do?”
“What do you do?” Polite enough question to start a first acquaintance chit-chat. It soon becomes: “What do you do all day?”, once you mention you’re retired.
Like everyone else when I was working full-time, I’d smirk at the usual reply of, “Oh, I’m busier than ever! I don’t know how I managed when working.” This was always said with a smug, over-enthusiastic smile.
Yeah, right. Swamped in deadlines, cube-mate dramas, bumpy bus commutes, I imagined the life : luxurious never-ending weekends, the travel, the time to read those novels, get that museum membership, lunch with fellow ladies of leisure. I’ll work out more when I retire, I’ll remodel the bathroom myself, or at least paint some rooms. I’ll sleep in. I’ll stay up and watch late-night TV. After all, time will be limitless, nothing but sunshine walks and candy-cane recipes every day, even Tuesdays! You can do anything, anytime when you’re retired!
Now here I am, made it, freedom 55 – uh, ok, 58. Kids stayed home longer than planned, you know how it is. And yes, it’s great. Especially the first 6 months : travel, eat out, sleep lots. Your skin improves, you enjoy wine every day (well, not really a change from working days!), friends say you’ve lost weight. It’s like a honeymoon!
But soon the itch begins, fall arrives, summer vacation is over. Did you read those novels yet? Is the bathroom painted? Yes? Well.. Now what?
And where are those precious extra slices of time to lounge around in?
What do you do all day?
And you know what? I’m busier than ever!
How’s that? Really? Well, a typical day:
0700 hrs – get up. Not really sleeping in, but better than quarter to six when I was working. I’ve always been an early bird. Besides, my husband sleeps later, and the peace of the morning to myself seems as nice as, well, when I used to get to work by seven thirty before most of my co-workers.
0800 hrs – How did I spend an hour already? I haven’t showered or eaten yet. I made the coffee, opened the blinds, stared out the window, turned on the news, washed up some glasses from last night. Checked my emails. Just like my old first hour at work, really. My husband will be up soon. I have time now to shave my legs if I want – then I can wear shorts to the gym.
0930 hrs – Go to the gym. Most days. The gym is in the condo building, so no excuse. If I don’t go now, there won’t be time later – you’ll see!
1100 – Showered, hungry, I usually have lunch early now. Homemade lunches : salad, soup, sandwiches. Then cleanup. Who knew it really takes an hour for lunch? When working, lunch hour was for bank runs, walks with coworkers, picking up a sandwich to eat at your desk where you’d surf the net.
After lunch – This is the precious, only time for new hobbies : for me, writing. Walk to a coffee shop to avoid looking at all the housework to be done at home. This was an unanticipated fact about retirement: time for housework. Which I never, ever liked, ever, anyway. So the afternoons are for avoiding the house and any work there. I’m pretty successful. These are also my surfing the net hours when I procrastinate with the writing (Hey, just like work!)
1500 – Shopping for dinner. It is very important and wonderful that I live in a walkable neighbourhood. And that I like walking. I’m starting to meet people on these walks, but have to be careful as I don’t know how I’d fit more friends into my schedule. Just like avoiding chatty co-workers!
1600 – Cocktail hour. I admit it. While we make supper. Well, again, not really a retirement life change. At least now I drink for pleasure, not for the medicinal value of relieving work-day stress.
1800 – After supper, this used to be reading time. I still do. Disappointingly, I cannot fit much more reading in than when I was working. I have such a long list of what I want to read, but the darn authors just keep coming out with more and more! I wish there were more hours in a day, but I’m figuring something out : If you have the time, you will fill it. Kind of like my former job in IT – no matter how much disk space you allocated, it always filled up! (Didn’t they make a baseball movie with this theme? If you build it…?)
1900 hrs– Blue Jays game tonight? Watch our recorded shows? Or read another hour? I’m a homebody in the evenings, if I can get away with it. Unless there’s a class or writing meetup to attend, or a condo meeting, or any number of social outings, that still, for whatever reason, even retired people like to schedule in the evenings. Or I can do my own nails, plan travel, phone out-of-town friends and family, go to the movies. Not much different from evenings when I was working, except I’m not exhausted to take them on. Well, except when my back hurts from the gym. Or my eyes are sore. Retirement does come with costs of age, but that can be another whole article!
2300 hrs– If I make it this late…
Of course many – most! – days are not typical. Favours to be done for family or friends (because you’re retired, you have the time!); errands that used to be squashed into the weekends. I never shop on weekends anymore if I can help it -was I ever so rushed and nasty? But that means more chores to be done during the week. Then there are the mall days – I don’t need to clothes shop as much as when I was working, but I still like it. Again, not on weekends.
So there you have it – what I do all day. Some days. Busier than ever.
Some days I even clean the bathroom.