By: Laura Hoffpauir
Summer is over. It’s still very hot here in Louisiana, but it’s school time again. Even as a retired home educator, I’m affected by this change of season. I have 2 children in college right now. I have to remember to allow extra time for the increased traffic school time brings, as well as school zones and buses. As a part-time tutor, I’m working on finding times to schedule in students who need help. This change of seasons in the annual cycle coinciding with the change of season in life has me thinking about the character of different seasons and what it means for me and specifically for my marriage in retirement.
People often refer to the later years as the autumn of our lives, comparing the end of our lives to the end of a year and meaning we’re in the third quarter. At the same time, people often treat the retirement years as summertime: a time we look forward to after many years of hard work, a less structured time, a time of vacations and leisure activities. But just as summer can sometimes grow old and kids can become bored and lazy without enough structure, people sometimes find retirement to be flat. As a kid, I remember resenting having more chores and responsibilities in the summer because it was supposed to be free time. What I didn’t see was that my mother did all that for me during the school year while I was busy studying.
I think we sometimes have unrealistic views that our retirement years will be free from responsibilities. Almost invariably we reach the end of summer only to find we didn’t do some of the things we really wanted or needed to do. What seemed like “all the time in the world” in May became “where did the time go?” come September. I don’t want to feel bored or become selfish in my retirement years, and I certainly don’t want to have regrets at the end.
For the past several years, my kids and I have planned out summers and Christmas breaks. I find it very helpful. It’s good to brainstorm ideas together. We are able to plan a mix of traditions and new activities. We can be sure to include what’s most important to each of us individually as well as activities to do together as a family. It helps us to be realistic about the time we have and also not to let the time slip away. It makes us pause to consider a variety of categories of activities to make sure we are eating well, getting exercise and fresh air and sunshine, keeping our brains challenged, spending time in prayer, visiting with extended family and friends, maintaining and improving our home and yard, and reaching out to help others. I think all of this applies to planning for a good season of retirement.
One of the seemingly chance things that made a big impact in my life was coming across the concept of “living retirement one weekend at a time”.
It was several years ago, and I don’t remember if I saw this on an inspirational plaque or pillow or in meme form, but it really struck me. It’s partly the wisdom of not putting off what’s important to you, because we never know how much time we have, but for me it’s also the value of training for how we want to live when we retire.
I do think we need to set aside some totally free time to decompress after years of work, but I also think we need to have a plan in place for some loose structure for our days and rhythm for our weeks and months and years. I especially look forward to brainstorming with my husband to see what his hopes and dreams and priorities are for this season of our lives, and how we can both work and play TOGETHER. We need to think back to our years together dating and our time as newlyweds before becoming parents, but also consider our roles as parents to adult children and all our other relationships, old, new, and changed over the years.
My general motto for summer days or even weekends is, “Get something done. Do something fun.” My couple’s goal for retirement is
“Get something done together.
Do something fun together.”
Laura Hoffpauir is passionate about learning and teaching. She has homeschooled her 6 children, taught small classes in homeschooling co-ops, and continues to provide tutoring services. She also enjoys crochet, crafts, birdwatching, word games, and live music of all kinds, from her daughters’ church choirs to her husband and son’s rock cover band, The Lakeshore Drivers.