The first couple of years of my retirement, I felt from time to time as if I had retired from my professional career simply to become a housecleaner and gardener. There were times when I questioned whether this trade was really worth it.
A few years later when I re-entered the workforce on a part-time basis, I started to appreciate that trade-off a little more. I realized that while I was indeed still laboring when I did housework, it sure was a lot less stressful than the labor that someone else pays you to do. That’s why yesterday when I spent the afternoon deep cleaning a bathroom that hadn’t seen that kind of clean in years, I didn’t mind so much. Because this time I appreciated how wonderful it is to have the extra time, even if some of that extra time isn’t always spent on the most exciting of endeavors.
In fact, I spend a lot of my extra time in ways that many people might not appreciate the appeal of.
I enjoy at least one more hour of sleep each night than when I was working. And that’s not even counting the hour most nights that I was up at 3am worrying about work. Besides that, most days I take a little nap too. When I’m tired, I sleep. If I don’t feel like getting up yet, I don’t.
Housework and Gardening
Ok, I know some of you are thinking, “I’m going to retire just so I can squeeze more sleep, housework, and gardening in? Not for me.” And for many of my retired blogger friends, the housecleaner is a non-negotiable budgetary item. For me the trade-off is worth it. For the annual cost of a housecleaner Doug and I could spend a week in a fancy resort in Hawaii. For the cost of a gardener, a less extravagant week at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. I’ll take the beach any day, even if it means scrubbing my own toilets.
I will share a tip for those that share my priorities. I no longer do the hours-long cleaning or gardening sessions that were usually saved for the days immediately preceding visitors. Now, I spend an hour each day taking care of one house cleaning or gardening item. It all adds up to a relatively clean house and manicured garden all the time, minus the back aches.
There is really no excuse for the fact that I hadn’t been to yoga at all during the two years of my part-time job. Priorities again I guess. But part of the reason is that this is basically a three-hour venture. With almost a half an hour commute each way for the hour-and-a-half class, followed by a shower, we’re talking about a three-hour chunk of my day.
All the other stuff
If you’re keeping up with the math so far, I’ve just spent six hours of a full-time work day, and I haven’t even done anything really revolutionary. For those that fantasized about having so much more time in retirement, this may be a little depressing. Basically only two hours left for all the other stuff: reading, volunteering, seeing friends, taking classes, planning trips, and enjoying whatever hobbies you thought you’d be enjoying in retirement.
It’s not a whole lot of extra time is it? It hardly seems worth it. But here’s the thing. All of your time now is missing something, something that makes it totally worth it. The thing your time excludes now is hurrying. Sure you might lose time to more sleep, more housework, more lollygagging over breakfast. But that’s because you have time to lollygag. And best of all, while you’re not hurrying, you’re also not thinking about work, not during yoga, and not at 3am when you should be sleeping.
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