Just an average day in retirement

When I first retired, like most new retirees, I was frequently asked what I was going to do with all my time. Now, over three years in, the most frequent question I still get asked is what I do with all of my time. Like I have an excess of time now…geez! How do I explain to people how much I enjoy my slow mornings, without sounding lazy? Or how going into town is an event and not necessarily an everyday occurrence? How do I explain that there is no average day in retirement?

What does your ideal, average day look like in retirement?  I say “average” day because many of us envision travel as part of our ideal retirement.  I know I do.  Travel days take on a life of their own.  But there are many days in between travel.   Average days when you do not have anything special planned.  How does your typical day or week at home play out? How do you visualize your ideal retirement lifestyle? How do you shape it to be more what you want? It is preferable to figure this out prior to retiring but it is never too late to think this through and then take the action steps to make it happen. After all, retirement is the perfect time to practice a little Alchemy. Three years into retirement and I have developed (or should I say evolved into) a loose structure to my average days when we don’t have anything in particular planned.

What does an average day in retirement look like?

Below is my perfectly average day in retirement:

  • Definitely, definitely wake up without an alarm.  This is usually around 6:30. Not waking up to an alarm clock is one of my favorite things about retirement.
  • Mr. U and I have our morning “coffee” time.   This is something we have done since we first got married and I attribute it to keeping our marriage solid for over 40 years.  It is our time to talk over our thoughts, plans, and dreams, as well as the nitty gritty organization for the day.  
  • After our coffee time, we each fix our own breakfast and have some time to ourselves.  A day or two a week Mr. U will cook a breakfast for us, or we will go out to eat, but we are talking average day here.   We do not usually meet up for lunch.  How does that sayings go, “I married for life, but not for lunch?”  It is an adjustment spending so much time together when you both retire, and we feel like we bring more back to the relationship if we have some time apart.  
  • I love slow mornings when I have leisurely time to read, blog, journal, pray and just reflect. I absolutely need this down time to ponder. And just so I don’t ponder the whole day away, I also jot down what I want to accomplish for that day.  If I don’t do this, the day slips by and I don’t get anything done that I intended. Like many people, I have also jumped on the Wordle band wagon and try to solve it every morning.
  • Get up and move. Time to do household chores, because apparently, they do not magically disappear in retirement. (My perfect average retirement day would not include chores, but just keeping it real.) I try to do 15 minutes of gentle yoga to maintain balance and flexibility. Then I head outdoors whenever possible. I prefer to fill my water bottle, pack a light lunch, toss my journal into a bag and hop on my bike or just take a walk.  My favorite excursions are next to a river or lake. 
  • Afternoons are open to what fun the day presents. This is where play happens. It is a good time to consider doing what puts you in a state of “flow.” Where you get so absorbed in what you are doing that you lose track of time and suddenly realize that it is already dinner time.  This could be spending the afternoon with someone or pursuing a personal interest or project. It is different almost every day. I try to purposefully decide how I want to use this precious time. Your retired so you get to pick!
  • I like to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day, preferably while something is grilling on the BBQ. While we do not typically have breakfast or lunch together, Mr. U and I almost always eat dinner together. And unless there is something significant on, we do not eat dinner in front of the T.V.
  • Evenings are still a little unsettled for me.  My energy has dwindled by then, both mentally and physically.  When you are retired, you get time during the day to do what you love so you don’t need to cram it into the evening.  For example, I used to read every evening that I had the chance but now that I have time to do that in the mornings, I don’t have a strong need to read in the evenings. I have started watching a little evening TV, but I am not a huge fan. I am curious how other retirees use their evenings.

My perfect average retirement day

Keep in mind that this is my perfect “average” retirement day and not necessarily every day and not my perfect retirement day.  That would be out on the boat in flip flops, pulling up to dock at a waterfront restaurant for dinner and then watching the sunset from the bow of the boat with a cold drink and good company.  Or a day traveling to new sites, going on a hike and then dining alfresco.  However, this post is about a retirement lifestyle that I can enjoy on an average day that feeds my soul.  Average days are the meat and vegetables that make up retirement life.  Travel and other special experiences are the spices you add on top. 

If you have not retired yet, it is never too early to think about how you would like to live your average retirement days. If you are retired, are you living your best life on the average days or do you need to tweak them a little? We want to make every day great and not just tread water until we are on the other side of the dirt. What does your perfect average retirement day need to include?

5 comments on “Just an average day in retirement

  1. I often heard that question – What will you do? What do you do? -in retirement. I’ve come to the conclusion that most people posing that question weren’t really interested in what I do but wondering what they would do if they were retired from formal employment. I had a full life prior to retirement & knew that those things I did before 8AM & after 5PM would be done between those hours once I left FT work behind. Like the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey – what’s a weekend? I live alone on a rural property and there’s always a list of things left undone. The question I ask myself now is – How did I have time to do this when I was working? In regards to time, I can no longer use the excuse – I just don’t have time! Seasons impact the to-do list. Snow means slow with more time for reading, movie watching, card playing after lunch or supper. Spring, summer & fall means go, go, go. I have an elderly mother in a local supportive living facility & 2 grandchildren who live 4 hrs away who need my attention. An average day starts with coffee while reading my favorite blogs & listening to morning radio. I often do meal prep in the morning when my energy level is higher. I enjoy baking & cooking. Cookies are my currency. As you said, household chores don’t go away in retirement. There’s the day-to-day & then there are the extras like cleaning under appliances that happened this week. After purging my mom’s house, I’m very cognizant of the decluttering that needs to happen here as well. Mornings are usually about what needs doing while the afternoons are about what wants doing. Right now I’m working on a scrapbook project for my youngest granddaughter. Maintaining my health is part of my job now so floor exercise, yoga, tai chi chih, walking are all part of my routine. I met up with a friend yesterday for a 2-mi walk. Being of service is part of my purpose so there are community commitments. Of late, I’ve been babysitting occasionally for a neighboring family. I’ve also driven tractor for them on a fencing project. Evenings are for supper, cleanup & winding down over favorite tv programs, computer games, phone visiting with friends. The evenings are no longer filled with a to-do list & a late meal. I’m never bored. If I think I have nothing to do, there’s always a walk & a book or that list of things left undone. I love retirement.

    1. Hi Mona –

      I think you are spot on in that, when pre-retirees ask us, they are more curious about what they will do in retirement than what we are doing. So, our response is important to their vision of retirement. It sounds like you have a very wonderful, full life. I am noticing such a strong correlation between those that love retirement and how engaged they are with life. I had to smile when you brought up the quote from Downton Abbey, because it is also one of my favorites. (I did not think anyone else remembered it.) Whenever Mr. U and I do something fun during the week, we look at each other and ask, “what’s a weekend?”

      I’ll bet your friends and family love your “currency!”

  2. I did a similar post not too long ago about the perfect day, a rainbow day as my 3 year old granddaughter describes it. I’m a morning person and tend to rise with the sun while my wife sleeps in. This gives me a quiet morning to enjoy coffee, news, reading, blogging and thinking about the day’s to do list. My wife and I enjoy thrift shopping and will visit a thrift store or two on a good day, enjoy a great lunch and then have time at home in the afternoon in the yard or house doing chores. We enjoy travel and a great retirement day for us is a day on a cruise ship! After almost four years of retirement, I am still trying to figure out a full retirement routine.

    1. Hi Mitch –

      I have heard the term “red letter day” but I LOVE the term, “rainbow day” instead! I am going to start using that to describe a wonderful day. Tell your granddaughter thank you for the term. Wisdom comes from the mouths of babes.

      I really enjoy your blog. I tried to comment on it, but I can’t get it to accept my WordPress URL. Not sure what I am doing wrong. I was hoping that writing a blog would help me to be more tech savvy, but apparently… not so much. Sigh.

      Hope you are having a “rainbow day!”

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