Travel, Vancouver Island

Playing Hooky

Labour Day Syndrome—almost every student and educator has experienced this condition to some degree, even if they call it by another name, or start their school year at a different time. You know, that restlessness deep in your stomach that begins to churn as the last weekend of holidays comes to an end, and a new school year begins. Your mind races with all of the changes that lie ahead. As much as you are caught up in the excitement of that newness, your spirit pleads for just one more day of summer vacation.

This Labour Day weekend my husband and I spent tent-camping at French Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. It was the first camping that either of us had done in over fifteen years. We fumbled along without some important items that we had forgotten to bring. (A comfortable pillow…who knew? An axe that actually had some hint of sharpness…seriously!) Nevertheless, we felt like MacGyver when we were able to make things work with alternate resources…or with Richard’s Swiss Army Knife.

Once we had everything set up, we quickly established a comfortable routine. This included much lounging on the beach, decadent reading time, long dog walks to the general store, and me stubbornly proclaiming that the tracks that we had just seen in the sand were not that of a dog but were most definitely made by a cougar…and quite recently at that! And, if I may humbly add, we had some incredibly delicious campfire meals. Seriously, Anthony Bourdain should have dropped by!

We had booked our camp reservations to include the three days before Labour Day and the one day after (when most other campers would be gone). That meant that the first three days were packed, filled with parents and children cramming in the final days of summer. On the morning of the official Labour Day, I awoke to a child’s screams of “I HATE school”, as his parents hastened to deflate their quickly fading, plastic summer gear and re-stuff it all into their van. Poor guy,  he definitely had a serious case of Labour Day Syndrome.

And then a strange thing happened. I felt guilty. Not quit-retirement-right-now-and-follow-these-crowds-back-to-work-guilt (surely, you jest)! But it was raw guilt none the same.  I know, I know.  I may have mentioned in more than one post that retirement (so far) had been a relatively easy transition for me. And I believe that it has been.

But still, the feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else…like I was currently ‘playing hooky’ was there. And it makes sense. For 53 years, I had experienced a finite last day of summer holidays immediately followed by the first day of a new school year. I acknowledged the feeling, respected it, and then let it pass.

I am now calling upon all retirees, and retirement bloggers, out there. Has retirement guilt caught you by surprise? If so, how have you handled this?

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French Beach Provincial Park is an amazing place to camp, or even just visit for a day hike or picnic lunch.











Shout out to French Beach Market and Owner/Artist Christopher Lucas.If you are ever anywhere near Sooke, BC, I highly recommend stopping by. Five dollars will buy you a coffee and muffin (with chocolate spoon included), or a hot shower and towel, or a much-needed bag of ice. And Christopher will gladly give you a tour of his artwork which is incredibly impressive!11400971_1400217626975575_6683808287373456558_n 11400984_1400217610308910_4584297985122178868_n img_9105

19 thoughts on “Playing Hooky”

  1. This post really talked to me because, yes, I feel that same restlessness every September. Labour Day to me has always been *New Years*.
    Since I retired though, I would have defined the feeling more as *jealousy* rather than *guilt*. The one thing I’ve struggled with over the past 5 years is having a sense of purpose. I’ve always been and continue to be very goal oriented.
    For the past year, the goal I had in sight was a 1,000 km bike tour of Thailand from Bangkok to Phuket in October. After I broke my collarbone in June, this goal crashed and burned, so this Labour Day has been particularly challenging for me. As my friends continue to count down and train for departure day in 3 weeks, I’m sitting on the sidelines.
    Even more than ever, this year I’m feeling very, very jealous of all these people heading off to whatever goal is currently in their sight, whether it’s grade 4 or back to work.


    1. I am so sorry to hear about you missing your bike trip, Joanne. Your comment is an excellent reminder to me not to take anything for granted — especially my health. Thanks so much for sharing this.


    2. Joanne, I can understand your feelings of frustration about having to miss the cycling trip. I am an avid skier. Last September I broke a bone in my foot and had to sit out the entire ski season. I was in a cast for four months and then attending physio to learn to walk again. I discovered that not being able to walk is even worse than not being able to ski! Now I am so grateful that my foot has healed and I am able to walk, cycle, swim, etc., and am looking forward to the next ski season.



  2. Nope! No guilt at all. Maybe some relief that everyone is back at work freeing up the daytime world for me. September always seems like a fresh start. A new outfit for school (and then for work). This year I bought a new washing machine. I must reexamine my goals for sure.


  3. I don’t think I’ve ever felt guilt about being retired when others (friends, family) are not. I am so grateful that I am able to experience my live right now with few restrictions. I’m also grateful that school has started and the roads are less clogged. Your camping trip sounded delightful and the French Beach Market not to be missed if we are ever in the area!


    1. Hi, Janis. As you have recently visited the amazing cities of Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, you definitely should add Vancouver and Victoria to your list. That will bring you in the area of French Beach Market!


  4. Yes, the feeling of playing hooky comes up often. Not strong guilt though…more like I’m getting away with something! So, I revel in the feeling naughty. Hah, my bad girl is coming out!


  5. I never felt guilty in my first year and 2/3 of retirement! I sent my condolences to my former colleagues when the first September came up! I was glad not to have to deal with memorizing the 32 boys names of my grade 8 PE class(the boys at that age all seemed to look alike). I was certainly glad to be rid of the school board and government politics that happen every new school year!
    I did start a second career in a totally different field and when that ended I was glad to actually loose track of what day of the week it was! No schedules, no work responsiblities(except household chores) and the freedom to do and plan each day as it happens or will happen!


  6. Loved your post as usual, Donna. Like Sam, I don’t feel guilty at all. I do, however, feel grateful that I was able to retire at 60. I was just thinking about that recently, how so many are unable to retire at all because of the lack of financial resources or responsibilities that require that they remain on the workforce. That being said, September does bring on that ”back to school” vibe, with its allurement of learning something new, but now I have the freedom to choose the subject, the teachers, the day and the time. Such freedom!!


    1. Thank you for this very insightful comment, Marilyn. Gratitude is the best attitude of all. I especially like your point of view of now being able to choose your teachers, and your subjects. Very well said!


  7. I guess we all know the feeling. But for us Labor Day means starting to make plans for the year — what family members get together for T’giving and Christmas, where we will go in February, our next summer vacation; plus, signing up for adult classes, deciding on volunteer commitments, planning for major expenses, making appointments for medical checkups and flu shots. Keeps us busy.


    1. Sounds like a good time to plan all of those things…and a busy year ahead. I’ve been slow to take on some of those larger commitments. Your provide good role-modeling to help push me forward.


  8. Donna, I am certain that camping meals taste better than fine restaurant fare! I am glad that you had such a wonderful camping trip.

    As for missing the September back-to-school rush, well, I am presently on leave and I did not go back to school for the first time in many years. I felt NO GUILT at all. I felt relief. Hmmm, I’m sure that is an important signal about my retirement timeline.



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