Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Practice Retirement

My wife begins her retirement today. Sort of.

She’s actually been off for the past four days, but that doesn’t count because it was the Easter Holiday weekend and she’d have had it off anyway. Also, she’s not really retired, she’s just sampling the life of leisure to see if it suits her. It’s a sort of practice retirement, to see if she’s ready for the real thing.

Most people don’t find retirement difficult, but my wife has one of those jobs that defines you, like police, fire fighter or serial killer. She works in social services. It’s a calling, not a job, and it’s what she has wanted to do from an early age, so giving it up is not something to be undertaken lightly. Our Plan had her retiring last summer, but she decided she wanted to keep working. The Tory government being what it is, however, meant that the job, and its increasingly insane directives, began putting undue stress on her, and I encouraged her to rethink her decision.

Stole this off the web.
Fortunately, and uncharacteristically, her employer came to the rescue by offering something called a Career Break, which would allow her to take a year off—without pay—to rest, recharge, rethink and then return to work. Or not. It proved to be the prefect solution: she gets to be a layabout for a year, realize what it is like to have a lot of time on her hands but no income, and then decide if she wants to keep it that way or go back to the job that was slowly killing her. Really, it was a no-brainer, so she took the offer and her final day of work (for a year, at least) was last Thursday.

So far, thanks to the holiday weekend, it’s had no impact on us, although we did celebrate last Friday by going out to dinner at our town’s Michelin star restaurant, because there is no better way to commemorate a 50% loss of aggregate income than by spending the equivalent of our bi-weekly grocery bill on a single meal. But it was worth it just to be in a restaurant where the servers don’t wear name-tags and you’re discouraged from hanging your coat over the back of your chair. From today onward, however, things are bound to be a bit different.

When my wife was only home on weekends, I had the whole week to myself. I’d get up early, then write, play music, go into town, take a nap or go see friends, and not have to worry about informing anyone of my plans. On weekends, there was a different routine, involving a cup of tea first thing in the morning (yes, I do get up and make my wife a cup of tea first thing in the morning), then, generally, a walk in the park, a tour around town (just to see what they’re getting up to these days), a protracted discussion about what we might have for lunch, and then having it. And then I’d follow her around the flat and annoy her for the rest of the day.

That’s fine for two days in a row, but now every day is Saturday. That’s a lot of cups of tea, which I don’t mind, but it’s also a lot of days I might be tempted to sleep late, which would impact my writing. So I somehow have to get used to the idea that, although my wife is not getting up to go to work, I still need to get up early and do as much writing as I can before it’s time to bring her a cup of tea because, after that, I’ll just follow her around the flat and annoy her for the rest of the day.

I expect there will be a lot of adjustments. I also suspect that, like me, after a few months she’ll begin to wonder how she ever fit a full-time job into her schedule.

In anticipation of this event, and feeling that I ought to keep at least a little of my time free to spend with my wife, I sat down and listed all the tasks I was performing, and how much time they took up. The total came to 46 hours per week. Now, I don’t necessarily have to do all of those things every week, but still, that’s more than a full-time job, and I’m supposed to be retired!

So, as you can see, changes need to occur in both our lives if we’re going to achieve any sort of balance. I’m all for that; I suspect a lot of the things I do are unnecessary and won’t be missed if I drop them from my routine.

We’ll be keeping that morning cup of tea, however.

Stole this, too, but then I modified it.


  1. At our house, I make the first cup of coffee and bring it to DH while he feeds the cats. The second cup he makes and brings to me. Yes, retired life is sweet...

    1. By the time I make the tea, I've already made a few cups of coffee for myself.

      Glad you're enjoying retirement. I know I am, and I hope my wife does.

  2. We're supposed to be semi-retired but that doesn't really happen with a teenager in the house does it?

    1. SEMI-retired with a teenager in the house? You're probably busier than most people with a 9 to 5.