You’ve retired! Hooray! You don’t have to go to work ever again! No more dreary Monday mornings, no more fishing around in the bottom of a communal sink for the staff room’s only teaspoon, no more deadlines, no more fights with the photocopier, no more interminable meetings…
If you’re a baby boomer facing retirement, you’re in an enviable position. Previous generations were considered ‘elderly’ by the time they retired and could look forward to little beyond sitting in front of the fire with a blanket for the rest of their days. Now, with improvements in healthcare, diet and fitness levels, current retirees are usually in excellent health with plenty of energy to continue to enjoy life.
So what will you do to fill your days now that the drudgery has ended and you’re ready to leap into retirement? Here are our top 7 things to do now that your time is your own!
You’ve spent years having your holidays limited by having a finite number of annual leave days. Once, your holidays were always followed by that horrible realisation that all the work you left behind was right there waiting for you upon your return. That is no longer so! Now you have the chance to go away whenever you like, for however long your budget will allow — and when you get home, all you’ll have to do is unpack and start planning your next trip!
Having a few short trips planned throughout the year will give your time some form of structure and give you plenty to look forward to. Go see some beautiful places in the UK
, or travel further afield and see amazing places worldwide
2. Be careful what you commit to
If you have grandchildren, you might feel obliged to provide regular childcare for them whilst their parents are at work. This is a natural desire and can be beneficial all ways round — your children get childcare they can rely upon for free/at a heavily discounted rate; your grandchildren get to spend time with people they love and who will take care of them, and you get to spend time with little people you love the socks off!
But unless you really, really want to, don’t commit to providing childcare 5 days a week every week during term time. For one thing, doing so would mean that you could only take holidays yourself during the school holidays, when travel is ridiculously expensive. Plus, if you have more than one set of grandchildren, you might find that if you agree to look after one of them, you’ll soon have a house full of them, and you may be left with little energy to enjoy the rest of your time.
Agree with your children
early on about the amount of childcare you can realistically provide: as long as you can help out regularly (if not frequently), your children will be able to make other arrangements for the rest of the time.
3. Have fun!
Start a new hobby — one that you’ll enjoy, that you can pick up and put down whenever you want to fill a few hours. Be as sociable as you choose — opt for joining a singing group, games centre or crafts club, or choose something you can do alone in the comfort of your own home such as scrapbooking, homebrewing, writing or jewellery making. There’s a great list of ideas you can do together with others or on your own here
4. Get into volunteering
You have a huge wealth of skills and experience that will be of benefit to others. Choose something you’ll enjoy, though, or you could feel like you’re back at work. Think about where your passion lies — teaching others? Animals? Caregiving? Charity? Children?
Animal shelters are always keen for reliable dog-walkers; charity shops will always welcome an extra pair of hands sorting products or assisting behind the till. If there is a food bank in your area, your help would be invaluable in sorting donations and handing out care packages. Schools are always, always in need of people to just sit and listen to the children read — too many don’t get listened to at home and many lack any kind of relationship with grandparents of their own.
You can arrange your own placement or join a volunteering organisation
Volunteering can give you a great sense of wellbeing and also provide some structure to your weeks. As with caring for your grandchildren, though, don’t overcommit — most places that welcome volunteers are looking for people who are available regularly, not necessarily frequently. If you can promise to attend even one day a month, they will find a place for you!
5. Work part-time
You might think you never want to set foot in a workplace again, but after a few months or years of retirement you might start to crave the routine — and find yourself in need of some extra cash. You don’t need to do anything high pressure or particularly taxing, just a little part-time job in your local shop or house/pet sitting. Or branch into something new — you could start a blog. Blogs are short stories, reflections or informational written pieces that could be of interest to others. Perhaps you had a particularly interesting career and have a wealth of anecdotes you could share; maybe you have a lot of tips or advice for younger people based on your experience. You can earn money by building a blog because advertisers can pay to place their ads alongside your writing. Find out more about how to build a successful blog here
6. Get out there and do something new
Learn a new skill, like how to play an instrument, how to speak a new language, how to cook a new type of cuisine, how to decorate a cake, how to fix a car, how to build a computer — whatever takes your fancy. Or find out how to research your family tree and visit all the places your ancestors have lived!
You have loads of time and lots of patience, when has there ever been a better time for you to try something brand new and get really good at it? And once you’ve mastered it, share it with others — start your own classes, or just share it with your grandchildren or friends and pass on what you’ve learnt.
7. Revitalise your home
Given that (in between possible trips and adventures) you’ll be spending a lot of time at home, you may find that you want to make it as comfortable and attractive as possible. If you’re the kind of person who can’t relax if you’re surrounded by clutter, have a good clear-out (you could always pop things you don’t use very often into self storage
); and get on top of those little DIY jobs that have been on your to-do list for a while. Giving the place a deep clean, re-glossing the woodwork or rearranging your furniture can give your house a facelift, making it a more pleasant environment to live in and also making it more attractive to potential buyers if you are thinking of selling up.
The key to having a balanced, happy retirement is to build in some structure (in the form of scheduled events or regular, enjoyable commitments) whilst enjoying the time in between. You have a lot of years to fill; enjoy them!