The myth of free time in retirement

2020-03-05T20:32:37-08:00March 5th, 2020|

I was sitting in my living room with a neighbor the other morning, discussing a project; we were charged with recommending a redesign on a planted strip that runs through our neighborhood. We had both volunteered to be on The Median Committee.

We agreed that we wanted to be active in the project, but didn’t have as much time for it as it warranted, and that this was kind of funny, given we were both retired. “Don’t you find,” I asked, “that people think because you’re retired that you have plenty of time? Do you get asked to do a lot of things? I am really having to say ‘No’ more often; I am already over-committed and tired. I don’t know how I ever had time to work!”

“Yes!!” she replied. “Just because you’re retired, there’s an assumption that you have plenty of time and are the perfect person to ask to volunteer… on anything and everything.” We laughed, but in fact, we also discussed that this is a time in life when it’s really important to get enough sleep, to rest, and to make health a priority.

My husband is younger, still works more than full time, and commutes 6 hours a week. I do all the grocery and other shopping, the cooking, the laundry (he folds the towels and underwear). I take things to the cleaners, pay the bills, put all our finances on the computer, do 90% of the gardening (3 to 5 hours a week), and arrange for repairs or replacements. Hubby does a little of this but it’s primarily my job, and I know there’s other stuff I’m leaving off this list. He has designated chores, but because “I’m not working,” I do a lot.

In addition to that, I do at least a half-hour of yoga and core strengthening daily and 3 to 5 hours a week of pool therapy at home, all just to keep me standing, with my post-polio fatigue and weakness. I also have considerable back pain and have to ice it 1 to 3 times a day, which takes 15-30 minutes of lying down each time, and sometimes I take a nap of a half-hour in order to have the strength to cook dinner. Then there are the doctors to manage, and I have medical appointments at least a few times a month.

Oh, and I’m an author. I facilitate a writers’ group twice a week, so there goes a happy 6 hours, necessary in order to complete a book or articles. I’m in the editing process for my second book, with extra assignments from my publisher and cover choices to review and re-review, and more. Next will come the publicity, which takes almost as much time as writing the book. I chair a polio survivors’ group meeting quarterly, so I research speakers and send out other info via email in the interim times. I belong to two women’s groups, one with a monthly evening meeting and one with a day-long quarterly meeting. I volunteer quarterly on our city’s Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Committee.

There’s some truth to the axiom: “If you want something done, ask someone who’s already busy.” Active people can often fit in one more thing. But I’ll tell ya, I thought I was gonna have a lotta free time upon retirement! The Eagles had it right: “Take it easy, take it easy, don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy. Lighten up while you still can…” Or, in Jackson Browne’s terms, “When the morning comes, we get up and do it again. Amen.”

3 Comments

  1. J March 5, 2020 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Invoice the spouse

    • Francine Admin March 5, 2020 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Ha ha! Yeah, well, he brings in the lion’s share of the bucks. No big house or vacays without ‘im! Plus he’s funny. And affectionate. So he’s payin’ his dues.

  2. Kristen March 10, 2020 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    You sound like my retired mother, always wondering why she’s busier than when she worked full time!

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