A few weeks ago a friend who is about to retire asked about my daily routines after retirement. She wondered how she would get into a new routine without the structure of a job that required getting up early, commuting, and meeting expectations in the workplace. Without a job that dictates the flow of a day, how would she fill her days?
Her question made me realize that I’ve developed a set of daily retirement routines. With the four distinct seasons in Canada, there are seasonal variations in the routine, but core aspects remain the same. For example, in warm weather, I sit outdoors to drink my morning coffee; on cool days or during the winter, coffee is drunk in the cozy comfort of a living room chair — preferably near to a sunny window.
After a lifetime of being ruled by a clock I spent the first few months of retirement absolutely rejecting any structure or routine. I relished the freedom of ‘going with the flow’ which meant eating when I felt like eating, sleeping when I felt like sleeping, and following no routines. I rejected anything that restricted the new freedom of retirement.
As time passed and I completed the honeymoon phase of the newly retired, I realized that routines matter in terms of life balance and self-esteem. Gradually certain habits developed; these habits provide routine and structure to most days.
These routines/habits have evolved over the five years since I retired. I’m sure there will be further changes as time goes by.
My day begins with an hour or so of quiet time drinking coffee, listening to CBC world news, writing my journal, checking emails, and planning the day. Then it’s time for showering, dressing, and preparing to face the day.
Exercise is an important part of retirement. I build exercise into every week. On three or four days, I go to the gym for aquatic exercise, strength-building, or yoga classes. Gym time is usually followed by coffee and/or lunch with my husband or with gym buddies. On days when I’m not at the gym, I walk for about 45 minutes in the neighbourhood, or, when at the cottage, I walk on the beach.
Afternoons are usually devoted to writing, household tasks, errands, or hobbies. On most days I cook — usually from scratch. I make soups and stews during the cold months. I love baking and bake all the bread for our household plus a supply of cookies and muffins for snacks. Sometimes there is an afternoon bridge game, or a meeting, or a nap!
Evenings don’t begin much before 8 or 9 pm as my husband and I enjoy late dinners. Because of late eating schedule, we have little time before it’s lights out. We may finish some of the household tasks that were left undone in the afternoon, do some reading, or, watch the late news on television.
There is always flexibility in the schedule. After all, why retire if there won’t be time for fun or spontaneity? When a need or opportunity arises, I make adjustments. If I’m asked to care for my grand-daughter, or go on a special outing with my husband, I abandon my routines. Adjustments to routine are also called for when on vacation or traveling.
With repetition, many routines have become habits that I do without much thought or attention. Regular exercise and making time for writing are now habits that get incorporated into most days with little thought or planning. When retirement routines become habits, there is energy leftover for new challenges, for hobbies and new adventures.
Here is a link to earlier postworksavvy thoughts on the topic of routines. Happy in Retirement — Good Routines
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