My fallible plans for semi-retirement

Patrick says I romanticize life events, like my semi-retirement, but I don’t agree. I think he’s negative and sprinkles acid raindrops of reality on my rose colored progressives.

My theory is he’s jealous he had to postpone reducing his work schedule because apparently, he romanticized about our finances.

Anyway, I’ve read that you need to make plans when you experience more unstructured days of freedom to ensure you don’t grovel in the corner drooling. Or worse, start looking for a full-time job.

Here is a list of my plans with foreshadowing of how some pesky nettles could give the shaft to my Garden of Eden.

I’ll cook healthy meals during the day so we can eat before 8:00 p.m.

Patrick splashes cold water on this fantasy when he says, “I can see what is going to happen. You’ll get an invitation to meet a girlfriend for dinner and leave a box of Captain Crunch on the table with a note that says, “Pour your own damn milk!’”

“Crunch berries or plain?”

“I hate crunch berries!”

“So plain.” (Adds to grocery list).

I’ll grocery shop on weekdays saving Patrick the trouble of going with me. 

Patrick is balancing the checkbook and shrieks, “Four hundred dollars for groceries this week! Are we eating caviar and filet mignon morning, noon and night? I better start going with you so you’ll stick to the list.”

“If you think you must.”

I’ll keep the house spotless now that I have time to clean and declutter.

After about a week of drudgery, a sliver of resentment jams into my psyche causing significant pain. I thought I was going to work less, not sign on as a chambermaid.

“Patrick, can we squeeze in a budget item for a cleaning service?”

I’m sure his response includes some boring details about making hard choices with my reduced income, but this is what I hear, “No.”

Undaunted I move to Plan B.

Dangling a wine glass in front of Patrick, I promise to pop the cork on some love nectar as soon as we spend quality time cleaning the house together. I remind him of how much it excites me to see him wearing Playtex gloves while scrubbing the shower.

I won’t need to buy as many clothes.

Who am I kidding? I’m still going to need cute and comfortable clothes for special occasions, i.e., days I wear clothes. And since I’m not going to join a nudist colony that would mean every day.

I’ll shop for sales.

Since I feel nauseated imagining myself traipsing through stores, pawing racks of drab items to find a single gem, I have to confess something. Having more free time is not likely to transform me into someone who loves to shop any more than it will turn me into a gardener or a camping enthusiast. Alternating between J. Jill mail order and Stitch Fix ought to keep me from wearing sweatpants every day.

I’ll save money on gas.

Patrick’s daily inquiry, “Where are you going today? Will it be under or over a four-hour drive? Just curious.”

I’ll get in shape.

The only drawback to this plan is how much time lies before me to exercise later, after I’ve attended to social media, writing, meeting friends for lunch, napping, etc.

I won’t procrastinate.

See above.

I feel so much better now that I’ve become more realistic about planning my time. Now, if I could just find a way to improve Patrick’s spirits, I think things would be perfect.

How do you think retirees or part-time workers should spend their newfound extra time? I need some achievable suggestions.

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58 thoughts on “My fallible plans for semi-retirement

  1. Very, very funny. I’m going back to re-read it. And laugh some more. My husband has decided he will never retire. He HATES grocery shopping. I’ve gotten as far as having him drive me to the store and wait in the car until I come back with the groceries. Ha. I will never retire either; my new full time job is writing, and I love every second. xo

  2. I loved this piece! Only came by to thank you for liking my story I entered for Stevie’s little contest. I’m afraid you’re gonna hate me – after 11 years of retirement I can tell you you will never find enough time to do all you want to do.

    • Thank you, Frank. And I loved your story, too. It was very intriguing. Thank you for stopping by and totally blowing away any shred of hope I had for finding time to do things I want to do during my retirement! Haha! I’ve already started to say, “How did I ever have time to work full time?” so I suppose I might as well change that to say, “I’ll never have enough time to do what I want to do.” And isn’t it great to be so engaged in life that we can say that?

  3. OMG. This just cracked me up. I think we’re long lost twins. Our husbands too! What a weird coincidence. Right down to J Jill, Molly. I feel ya. I used that grocery shopping ploy and it actually worked. In fact, I got out of grocery shopping altogether! I was not able to finagle any house-cleaning assistance. If you figure that one out, let me know. 🙂 Thanks so much for the morning laugh!

    • I wrote a brilliant response to your comment, Diana, and then something went wrong with wordpress and the comment was gone! I’ll try again. We are soul sisters, Diana. Isn’t J. Jill the best? So comfortable and flattering. We should get discounts for promoting the clothes, right? Anyway, I like how you’ve gotten your husband to do all the grocery shopping. My advice about encouraging him to become an active participant in cleaning day is to buy tiny aprons and tell him you are both going to clean wearing only the aprons. My guess is he will approach this task with enthusiasm!

  4. Favorite line: “Who am I kidding? I’m still going to need cute and comfortable clothes for special occasions, i.e., days I wear clothes” but it was hard to choose! I loved this, Molly, and am so on the same page! We have decided that Eric can retire when his military retirement comes in at 60 (18 months from now) but I’m looking like I’ll be one of those nurses working until I’m 70. I have let him know, however, that all housework, cooking and laundry will be his… except for those clothes that I love and do not want bleach stains on. I love your writing!

    • I’m so sorry you’ll be working until you are 70, and I want you to consider an intensive training program for Eric for the next 18 months so he can handle all the laundry. My husband has done the laundry now for quite a few years and I’m trying to ‘help’ now that I’m working part-time. I swear the chime on the washer is a sound only dogs can hear. LOL. Thank you for chiming in. We are soul sisters!

  5. LOL! Love this, Molly! I’ve got a while yet before I can even think about semi-retiring, much less retiring all the way. By the time I get there, they’ll have changed the retirement age to 80. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to retire, anyway. Maybe semi-retire. I’ll at least be able to say I don’t have time to clean 😀 Who am I kidding? I’d say that if I was fully retired 😀 More time to write, though. Right?

    • I hate how they keep pushing the retirement date up, Julie. I hope you can retire before you are 80! I am planning on drawing social security in two years. Unless they up the age for me! Semi-retirement is suiting me very well at the moment, I’m happy to say.

  6. Oh the best laid plans…. so funny, Molly! When I entered semi-retirement, I actually entered full on for 8 months because of something called “Retired Annuitant status.” Meant I could not teach until Fall semester. I kept to a rigorous schedule by blogging every day, working out, etc. I constantly quantified my days to anyone who would ask. Funny I never took naps because I got good sleep. So glad you seem to be enjoying your new schedule. You will ask yourself the cliche question of how you ever got anything done before?

    • I’ve already asked that cliche question, Terri! I haven’t taken a nap yet, except the day of my colonoscopy. That was not my favorite day off so far, but happy I didn’t need to use up a vacation day for it. I could have taken 8 months off if I knew I’d have an option to go back to something after that. It was just too hard for me to do take the plunge into full retirement. It’s a good life to work less!

  7. I laughed my socks off to this one! So relateable. As the UK government is gradually putting an end to the concept of retirement by pushing retirement age ever upwards, I am not retired yet. For my age group, it has been moved from the age of 60 up to 66 and 4 months. A friend of mine who is 53 will not retire until he is 70 and by the time our grandchildren reach old age, there won’t be any such thing as a state pension ( however, I am sure they will still be paying a fortune in taxes and National Insurance because they NEVER adjust those to reflect the services we no longer get for our money!) So even though I spent my working life paying into the system with the expectation to retire at 60, just as that goal was in site, they moved the frickin’ goal posts!!!!!!!!! When I do get to retire, if I live that long, ? I am going to buy an electric bicycle and a sawn off shotgun and rob banks to claw back the money that was stolen from my pension. If I get caught (electric bicycle?????), I will be housed, fed, clothed and entertained in one of this nations lovely institutions for law breakers. It’s a win win plan.

    • Hahahaha! I’m imagining you ransacking the country side on your electric bike touting your shotgun. Patrick and I always said for our retirement we would start growing a pot farm and if we didn’t get caught we’d make a lot of money, and if we did get caught we’d have free room and board. And then the state of Maine legalized it ruining our failsafe plan. Who wants to follow all the government regulations to grow their pot farms? My full retirement age is 66 and people younger than me have higher ages. It doesn’t make any sense. They should be encouraging us older workers to retire to make room for younger people and lower unemployment rates. It’s crazy!

      • So it’s exactly the same pension situation in the States! That cannot be coincidence. I really do believe in this ‘conspiracy theory’ that there is an agenda for there to be a world government – it almost feels like there already is. Unseen hands are pulling the strings of our ‘leaders’ because life for the peasant classes (anyone who hasn’t got several million in the bank and is in ‘the club’) is pretty much going the same way all over the civilised world. Our NHS is being systematically destroyed and I believe your health care system for poorer people is being gradually crushed from what I am reading. A pot farm sounds good – it would have been win win – how dare they legalise it!!!!!!!!! 😎

  8. My plans basically include sitting poolside and reading MORE books. Unless it gets cold. Then I’ll move inside and read more books. And walk the dog.

    I’m sure I’ll have just as much difficulty moving the wash to the dryer as I do now. I’ll just have less volume with the kids gone.

    • That’s what I’m finding, too! Last week it was a colonoscopy, this week a major hair appointment and the car needed an oil change. Luckily, I haven’t filled my time with doctor’s appointments, though. I like your idea of taking classes, Brigid.

  9. I vowed each and every one of these too! The only one I do regularly is grocery shop during the week. I enjoy swanning down the nearly empty aisles!
    As for the cleaning, blecchh! I can relate. As Mr. Maid often says, “no man was ever murdered by his wife while doing housework!” 😉

    • Mr. Maid is very wise! I think that should be emblazoned on a plaque in every home! So far I’ve gotten Patrick to go with me to grocery shop on Saturday since we were already out and about and it saved on gas. I don’t know how long I’ll get away with that excuse but I’ll keep creating new reasons why he has to be with me! LOL.

      • I actually prefer to shop alone. He insists on “driving” the cart, then wanders away while I stop to read a label. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve carried an armload of stuff through the store hunting for our cart to put them in! Drives me nuts! (and if you haven’t already figured it out homicidal urges towards one’s spouse is one drawback of semi retirement!)

  10. Love your list, Molly. You’re really such a pragmatist, filled with self-awareness! I’m easing into retirement, now taking Fridays off (so Hubs, who is fully retired, doesn’t get any ideas about me taking over the laundry or grocery shopping anytime soon). Not sure when I’ll let work go altogether, but I’ll be eagerly watching your progress toward that destination for pointers!

    • Don’t tell anyone but I’m working pretty hard on my days ‘off’ on this book release and my writing. In between naps and walks of course! I’m glad you are giving yourself long weekends. That is a great thing to do to start the ‘easing in’ process. I’ve decided retirement is a process for me, not an event like so many other life changes.

  11. Well I haven’t retired but I only work two days a week anyhow. I fill my ‘free’ days with food shopping, cleaning, writing and having coffee/lunch with friends. (If my hubby asks I’m also going swimming and to the gym…)

    • This looks like a great list except for two items: food shopping and cleaning. I think you can find my ways of coping with this helpful to free up even more of your time. For the gym, of course. 😉

    • Yes, I actually started this when I planned to fully retire and had to change it up to reflect my semi-retirement status. I’m making progress on doing the housework since I’ve taken on the laundry duties. The only problem is I get absorbed in writing and don’t hear the chime ending the cycle and I keep washing the same load of clothes over and over. I will claim progress when I get them into the drier before they mildew!

  12. Looking forward to your book!! My hubby and I have been retired for 4 years now. We travel more- we visited all our nieces and nephews. We enjoy our sports teams and we are happy hour afficuandos. But what really fillls are time are our kids- they both graduated college and are launching themselves. Launching means we help them move, we take their cars in for repairs, we wait for the cable guy, and yes I do have some extra cash!

    • Wow, Jena! You are a retirement superstar, and have a grand list of worthwhile activities for me to add to my list. We are lucky our son is ‘launched’ but we now have two grandsons who need us for sleepovers, babysitting, dinosaur digs, etc. Thanks for chiming in with your positive experience. I’m excited that you are looking forward to my book! Healthy, happy aging is where it’s at.

    • I can’t believe you procrastinate, Deb! You appear to get so much done. Nice to have a soul sister and I wish we did live closer. We could be chatting over coffee right now instead of working on whatever it is that needs to be done. 😉

      • I like the idea of being soul sister Molly. Enjoy your coffee as I sit in the morning sun having breakfast, contemplating our return home to normality after a whirlwind trip to Fiji for our daughter’s wedding. I’m supposed to be unpacking but that can wait while I catch up on blogs! See – I am good at procrastinating!

  13. I love lists! I retired in 2010, sort of. I somehow acquired a patchwork of part time jobs (in addition to my writing) in the last seven years (substitute teaching, tutoring, and wine and beer ambassadoring). Now I’m thinking of re-retiring. Then I’ll be able to flesh out those six book outlines. Hey! How about collaborating on a book? I think our senses of humor jive! Long distance writing collaboration should keep us both away from cleaning!

    • Haha! Great suggestion, Anita. I do think our humor jives very nicely. You definitely need to re-retire since it sounds like you’ve been pretty busy with your part-time gigs. I am wondering how long it will take me to give up my two days/week of work, but anything to avoid cleaning, right?

  14. I’m still not clear on the concept of “semi-retirement” — how is it different from “semi-pregnancy?” Or “semi-formal” (tuxedo w/sneakers)? Or “semi-otics?” If someone can declare their retirement, does that mean they were experiencing tirement before the announcement?

    See how I’m spending my retirement? Uselessly!

    • You give me lots of food for thought, John. It’s like the inventor of the word retirement knew it wasn’t a one and done sort of endeavor, right? I actually wrote a letter of resignation intending to retire September 1, and then chickened out, erasing any doubt that I do foolish things. It’s working out so far so good, but semi-retirement is a wishy-washy term at best!

    • I hope it’s not because you are shopping and cleaning too much, Karen. This is a trap I’ve had to find all sorts of excuses to avoid, even going to far as having a colonoscopy. Glad you have free time, though. This is my third week with my new schedule and I LOVE it!

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