how to stick to a schedule

Sticking to a Schedule When Retired

Along with the idea that women can have it all (yeah right), and men and women are equals in the workplace, we inherited the myth from the previous generation that when men retire, they start hanging out with their wives.

They do the shopping with them, check the prices, watch their money dwindle or they go back to school and finally study something they “always wanted to.”

Mature or senior couple strolling through the city with shopping bags in spring on a sunny day

I remember sitting once with my new European mother in law and discussing her son’s eventual retirement. I said that I didn’t mind him working on and on, and furthermore, encouraged it. I had seen with my own dad, who is working till this day, that he stays young in spirit by being so involved in his work, and constantly discussing it with his 20 and 30 something grandchildren. As a result he remains sharp and engaged on most subjects, and he is sought out for his opinions. My mother in law, on the other hand, thought that people should retire at a young enough age to still enjoy life, and physically be able to cope with the demands of travel, grandchildren and a full lifestyle. Both approaches are respectable.

Fast forward a few years and here we are, my husband and I are retired. Sometimes, out of the blue, he says to me that we have to spend as much time as possible together because we found each other so late in life. I look at him and seriously say, don’t worry, we do, spend A LOT of time together, in a good way. I think the same thing can be said for even those old marrieds that still like each other or find themselves more in love than ever.  Now is the time to really get together and do those things you were too busy to do before, but, do not get all caught up in the illusion of sleeping late, doing nothing and terminally relaxing.  It can get boring fast.


I used to be at work between 7 and 7:30 am and finish around 4 pm. David would leave at 8 am and return home at 6:30 or 7 pm. Today, there are no such time constraints. I am a naturally obsessive type, have an internal alarm clock for anywhere between 4:30 and 6 am because I grew up with a mother who had a NO STAY IN BED policy, I push a scheduled agenda. I swim every morning at 7 and that frames the upper part of my day.  I recommend a “wake up”  like that but the hard part is what comes after.  Working out in the early morning leaves one rejuvenated and ready for the day. Swimming, running, elliptical or the treadmill are great ways to begin the day with an adrenaline rush.

Upon your return from the run, gym or pool you will find yourself famished and ready for breakfast, the most important meal of the day and my personal favorite.  Add the newspaper (or two) and one can surprisingly find oneself mid-morning.  An important little anecdote to pay attention to is the newspapers, read as many different opinions of a wide range as you can. Diversity encourages youthfulness. Spirit and energy is all about learning new ideas and opinions. Even read opinion pieces that are contrary to your own.  They may not always be life altering but they may subtly change something in you and initiate a new vigor, enthusiasm and common ground with the younger generation.

We generally work from 10 -2, veering off schedule for very important exceptions like watching election results and commentary, laundry and very urgent phone calls (from children in other time zones, or not). Then of course, there is the escape to the kitchen for constant refills of coffee, the snack, cereal (out of the box), fruit or sometimes even ice cream. Suddenly it is 2:00.

We have made up to walk together for at least an hour a day, this includes our neighborhood and errands, but we venture out to other environs at least a couple times a week to explore and see fresh scenery.  We also schedule a weekly couple hour session for what I classify as financial planning.  Plus, I take my grandchildren out once a week because I love that, and the library is a weekly must do.


David works out later in the afternoon and I usually use that time to prepare dinner, I love cooking and baking and now I explore the world of dinner meals in a way that is the opposite of get dinner on the table and the kids to bed.  It’s more like spur-of-the-moment glass of wine, healthy marinated fish or chicken and some experiment that resembles nutritional vegetables.

It is beneficial to be resolute about structure but flexible enough to shake off that obsessive compulsive tendency and it doesn’t feel like school again.


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