I made plans to retire on September 1, but after I submitted my resignation, I felt restless and unsettled. My friends and family were excited for me, but I wasn’t happy and wondered what was wrong with me. After crying while I wrote a tearful goodbye to my thirty-eight-year nursing career, I admitted I wasn’t ready for full-time retirement. I pitched to my company that I could job share with another experienced nurse who also wanted to work part-time, and they agreed. My new schedule consists of working two days, with five days off. I go to work Thursday morning with enthusiasm, saying, “I can’t wait until Friday!” I get to stay in touch with coworkers, keep up to date in my profession, and bring home a paycheck which keeps my hand out of the retirement funds cookie jar. My husband still works full-time and our next step is to transition him into a part-time schedule.
I appreciate Donna’s blog and how she presents not only the joyful side of retirement but the challenges of transitioning from a full-time career to full-time retirement. As much as I’ve looked forward to this stage of my life, I discovered that for me it is a process, not an event. I’m honored to share my perspective on semi-retirement in her Sunday Guest Post series. Below is a recent post where I grapple with how to best spend my ‘new found’ time. All suggestions and comments will be warmly welcomed!
My Falliable Plans for Semi-Retirement
Patrick says I romanticize life events, like my semi-retirement, but I don’t agree. I think he’s negative and sprinkles acid raindrops of reality on my rose colored progressives.
My theory is he’s jealous he had to postpone reducing his work schedule because apparently, he romanticized about our finances.
Anyway, I’ve read that you need to make plans when you experience more unstructured days of freedom to ensure you don’t grovel in the corner drooling. Or worse, start looking for a full-time job.
Here is a list of my plans with foreshadowing of how some pesky nettles could give the shaft to my Garden of Eden.
I’ll cook healthy meals during the day so we can eat before 8:00 p.m.
Patrick splashes cold water on this fantasy when he says, “I can see what is going to happen. You’ll get an invitation to meet a girlfriend for dinner and leave a box of Captain Crunch on the table with a note that says, “Pour your own damn milk!’”
“Crunch berries or plain?”
“I hate crunch berries!”
“So plain.” (Adds to grocery list).
I’ll grocery shop on weekdays saving Patrick the trouble of going with me.
Patrick is balancing the checkbook and shrieks, “Four hundred dollars for groceries this week! Are we eating caviar and filet mignon morning, noon and night? I better start going with you so you’ll stick to the list.”
“If you think you must.”
I’ll keep the house spotless now that I have time to clean and declutter.
After about a week of drudgery, a sliver of resentment jams into my psyche causing significant pain. I thought I was going to work less, not sign on as a chambermaid.
“Patrick, can we squeeze in a budget item for a cleaning service?”
I’m sure his response includes some boring details about making hard choices with my reduced income, but this is what I hear, “No.”
Undaunted I move to Plan B.
Dangling a wine glass in front of Patrick, I promise to pop the cork on some love nectar as soon as we spend quality time cleaning the house together. I remind him of how much it excites me to see him wearing Playtex gloves while scrubbing the shower.
I won’t need to buy as many clothes.
Who am I kidding? I’m still going to need cute and comfortable clothes for special occasions, i.e., days I wear clothes. And since I’m not going to join a nudist colony that would mean every day.
I’ll shop for sales.
Since I feel nauseated imagining myself traipsing through stores, pawing racks of drab items to find a single gem, I have to confess something. Having more free time is not likely to transform me into someone who loves to shop any more than it will turn me into a gardener or a camping enthusiast. Alternating between J. Jill mail order and Stitch Fix ought to keep me from wearing sweatpants every day.
I’ll save money on gas.
Patrick’s daily inquiry, “Where are you going today? Will it be under or over a four-hour drive? Just curious.”
I’ll get in shape.
The only drawback to this plan is how much time lies before me to exercise later, after I’ve attended to social media, writing, meeting friends for lunch, napping, etc.
I won’t procrastinate.
I feel so much better now that I’ve become more realistic about planning my time. Now, if I could just find a way to improve Patrick’s spirits, I think things would be perfect.
How do you think retirees or part-time workers should spend their newfound extra time? I need some achievable suggestions.
Molly Stevens believes humor is the emollient that soothes life’s rough patches and promotes these convictions in her blog: Shallow Reflections. She is the author of an adult picture book called, Boomer on the Ledge™, released in October 2017, published by Humor Outcasts Press. She won third place in the 2017 National Society of Newspaper Columnists writing contest and is a contributing author for These Summer Months: Stories from the Late Orphan Project, edited by Anne Born. She is a featured contributor for Humor Outcasts and part of the Bangor Daily News blogging network. Her guest posts have appeared on: Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, Better after 50, Sizzling Towards 60, Mostly Blogging, and Sixty and Me. Molly grew up on a potato farm in northern Maine, where she wore a snowsuit over both her Halloween costume and her Easter dress. She lives in central Maine, and when she’s not writing, working or watching the New England Patriots win super bowls, she and her husband, Patrick, love to spend time with their son, daughter-in-law and two perfect grandsons.