If someone were to ask me what the best parts of retirement were, my answer would have little to do with not working (because of course I do). It would not be about travel, or getting up when I want, or playing golf daily or having plenty of time to volunteer-although all of those are important to someone, somewhere. The best thing in retirement, in my experience, is independence (and I don't mean the financial kind). The second best thing about retirement, of course, is the spontaneity that goes with that independence.
Even in retirement, most of my days are full. Generally, my week includes day trips, seeing friends, volunteering, working on a business, working in the house and many hobbies and interests. What makes retirement unique is that I control my days-all day, every day.
When I get up in the morning, I have a million choices of things to do. What I do depends on my mood and energy level. Each day, I get to ask myself, "What will I do today?" While some days may be spent reading and relaxing, the truth is my days are pretty well filled. There are a few things I do every day, the rest of my day is decided on a day by day basis. Some days I sew all day, and some days I spend most of that sewing time day dreaming-or decide instead to grab a book and read on the patio. Some days I do one thing the whole day and some days I spend my day in four or five different areas. I'm the one who decides when I need a break, or if I need a nap. I'm the one who decides if I will read until three am and sleep until ten am (obviously not a morning person here). If I want to take "lunch" at two in the afternoon, well, that's what I do.
By the same token, I can, for the most part make last minute spontaneous decisions at well. All it takes to take a quick overnight trip is to ask the child to watch the dogs or load them in the car, grab a few things and begone. I can be sewing in my studio, look up, and decide that this is the perfect rainy day to go to the early movie. The list is endless.
Of course, the down side of this freedom is that it is easy to flit, or to have no sense of purpose. Some fellow bloggers and retirees deal with this my scheduling their days into a routine, some make lists, some work with calendars. Different things work for different people. I suspect this is dependent on life in the work world and the amount of control folks had in their previous lives.
In my case, I had a distinct advantage to this freedom of schedule stuff. I was, put simply a housewife. Not just when my children were small, but most of my life-even when my kids were on their way to college. For most of my day, much of my life, I had few commitments and almost no schedule. I still managed to do all the traditional housewifely things, have a small business, meet friends, swim, take classes, and more-all on my schedule. Except for the end of day requirements, five days a week my boss was me (admittedly a certain amount of years had weekends where neither parent came up for air). So, even after a few years in the workforce, the segue into retirement (willing or not) went very simply. In many ways, I went back to the life I had before-albeit a single life this time
Sometimes we surprise ourselves in retirement-my mother was a housewife all her life and moved into a retirement home and retirement activities with enormous ease-she was on home ground, only in a different place. My father, who was the ultimate type A guy in international sales adjusted amazingly - except, as is often true of men, he became the nosiest man on the planet,or in this case Beaufort, SC.
So in the end, I'm not sure if those of us who worked at home (for love or money) are really better prepared for retirement, or it's just my imagination. What do you think? Either way, tomorrow is another day, and I'm still not sure what will happen after I wake up. It works for me!