So, you have finally reached retirement. Congratulations! For so many years, you looked forward to lie-ins, loafing about the garden, travelling to places you have never visited before and experiencing endless fun-filled days with your friends.
That was until you realized your pension wasn’t as much as you hoped for and those destinations you fancied visiting are off the list or filled with lager-swilling louts and their noisy families.
Your other half is not as excited at the prospect of retirement as you hoped and mooches about the house and your friends have all cleared off and moved abroad.
First off, you can forget lying in bed until 10 o’clock. You are older and your body needs less sleep. No matter what you want, you will wide-awake at the crack of dawn. Take a deep breath. Your retirement days are going to be extra long and you will need plenty to do to fill them.
However, help is at hand. Mr. Grumpy and I have had years to perfect the art of retirement and have come up with some strategies to help you through the early stages of yours.
You really need to start taking up hobbies or activities but if you feel like going with the flow then you’ll need to be prepared.
4 am: Learn to identify bird songs and calls. If you are going to get up at 4 o’clock, you will at least be able to identify the little fellows who will be singing outside your windows – unless, of course, you live in a town and the only sound you have is of cooing pigeons.
5 am: So you’ve reached 5 o’clock. Now what? How about practicing some exercises. Doctors say we need to stay flexible to help stay youthful. What about gentle yoga or Tai Chi? Both will help stretch out the muscles of your aging body.
Pop outside in your garden, dressed in your pajamas, to perform your moves. Or why not visit your local park? If you managed to cajole several friends into joining you, the locals will think you are performing a “flash mob,” although the speed you will be performing the movements it is more likely to be a very “slow mob.”
If you are feeling mischievous, capture your grumpy partner attempting a downward dog movement on your camera and upload to YouTube. You will be surprised how these things go viral.
7 am: If you have performed your routine correctly, you should now have reached 7 o’clock and you can enjoy your breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure you take time to prepare bowls of oats, grains and mixed berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, thus ensuring you have your intake of polyphenols. Don’t forget to add those all-important prunes.
Arrange in pretty bowls and take photographs. Upload to Instagram. This seems to be the place for foodies. Your bowl of porridge is likely to receive more attention than the photograph of you bungee jumping from a high bridge.
We uploaded a photograph of a pumpkin seed cracker bearing a smiling face of pieces of cheese that received more likes than the photograph of us crossing an Iceland glacier in a 4×4.
8 am: By the time you’ve eaten your breakfast you should have managed to get to 8 o’clock and the rest of the day stretching ahead is all yours. But what to do with it when you are retired?
Chances are you will manage to clean the entire house, wash all the bedding, scrub cupboards, mow the lawn, paint the kitchen, and complete your list of DIY jobs for the week before you reach 10 o’clock.
9 am: If you are not one of those people who adore having their grandchildren every time schools are off, you need to be ready with your excuses. Offspring tend to believe retired people should be available to assist them with DIY jobs or babysitting duties. Unless you are happy to do this, you need to have your excuses ready.
Make sure you have endless lists of hobbies and activities (there are plenty of suggestions in my book “How Not to Murder Your Grumpy” – over 700 in fact, so you are rarely available to look after little Johnny and Jessica. Please check out the book here if you live in the US, or here if you live in the UK.
10 am: Scientists are always telling us that older people need to exercise their brains. Forget the Sudoku puzzles and crosswords.
Learn a new language. How about trying something completely different? Learn Chinese or Mexican so you can practice it at your local restaurant when you next go out for a meal or if you are British, how about trying Polish or Bulgarian? You can test out your new skills chatting to the lorry drivers who spend weekends in the laybys throughout the country.
11 am: By 11 o’clock it really is time to go out. You’ve been up for seven hours. That’s almost a working day for non-retired folk.
Remember though, you have all day to get to your destination, so take your time. Choose somewhere a fair distance away from where you live so you will be out for several hours. Drive very slowly and steadily and smile or wave at all the people who overtake you, gesticulating as they pass. They are only jealous because they are not retired.
12 pm: Of course, grumpy old men generally do not enjoy shopping. You can make it more entertaining for them by setting them the task of hunting for the reduced bargains in supermarkets. Unfortunately, you might end up with endives, salami, and mushy berries for tea but your grumpy will be satisfied because he has saved money.
Be warned you must not let grumpy men shop alone. Mine, left to his own devices, discovered cereal on offer and bought 22 boxes of shredded wheat. Neither of us likes the stuff but he was delighted it was half price.
Alternative plans to save money include hanging out at car showrooms. These are warm, light and offer newspapers, free refreshments and biscuits. Grumpy and I have perfected the art of visiting car showrooms. Don’t worry about being approached. No one notices old people and anyway what would they be doing in a sports cars showroom? Oh, and avoid Honda garages. You will be spotted there.
Garden centers are where you will find most retired folk. Having consumed an over-priced cup of coffee they’ll shuffle about the plants and the small animal petting zoo, or hang about the expensive homemade jams and unusual produce wondering what to buy their next-door neighbor for Christmas.
I would suggest you avoid these places. They will only serve to remind you that you are not as young as you once were, unless you decide to leap on and ride the donkey at the petting zoo.
4 pm: Afternoons can be a problem. There is a temptation to doze off. You must try to resist the urge, as to do so will result in sleepless nights. Afternoon shows on the television are invariably mind-numbingly dull, so possibly now is the time to read that latest book, or go online and chat to your virtual friends. Chances are in spite of your best intentions you will be sound asleep by 4 o’clock.
8pm: Hopefully, evenings will be taken up by television-watching and convivial conversation with your other half over a light salad (we shouldn’t overload our systems at our age) and a glass of wine.
Remember though you are older now and evidence points to alcohol being very bad for you. In fact, you shouldn’t really have that one glass. You want to remain healthy, don’t you? You want to be able to enjoy all these long days.
Occupy yourself with a nice long bath before bed. Tomorrow will be another day. Exciting isn’t it?
Have you reached retirement age? What one piece of retirement advice would you add to our guide to retirement? Please join the conversation.