The moment we plan having kids, we start dreaming and planning about how we intend to bring up the children, the values we want them to instill, formal education, career, marriage etc. We plan to take care of all their emotional as well as financial needs and secure their future in all possible ways. Our entire focus is on the kids and their future. This is natural. We need to give our whole and soul to parenting to raise happy, healthy, educated citizens of the world. For this we need to pursue a progressive career as well as take out enough time to look after the kids. The kids grow but the work and stress never cease. It changes with the age of the child and that of ourselves too. By the time the child learns to eat himself, its time to start looking after their studies. When the child becomes somewhat independent regarding studies, it is time to take her to different co-curricular activities, camps etc., then the mental stress of competitive exams and career selection. By this time we too reach the peak of our career and just manage life with our slowly reducing energy levels. Still we don’t have time to think for ourselves. The rude shock comes when we retire from our jobs and the children are married with their spouses taking care of their needs. The question then pops up- What next?
This situation is leading many elderly couples into depression. Suddenly one starts feeling, we have achieved everything we needed to, kids are happy and well settled and they do not need us any more, and so we don’t have any purpose or goal in life left now! This is unfortunate. This is the way of life, a fact of life which perhaps the birds and animals are better at handling than humans. Thanks to the marketing by the financial companies, we plan out our after retirement financial needs, but fail to recognize the emotional and mental needs.
We need to plan and prepare for our after retirement life well in advance, while still busy with parenting. Some ways to do so are:
Take out time from work and visit friends, neighbors and relatives on weekends and holidays. Invite friends to your house. Make friends where ever you go and maintain contact with those you like. A close circle of friends always help each other and see you through the ups and lows of life. Join some club where you get to interact with different people and play games like carom, snooker, table tennis etc. When we socialize as parents, our kids too obviously learn to be social. By meeting and knowing different people they learn many things about the ways of life and how to deal with them. It also teaches them to be tolerant and friendly to all.
Be socially active
Being socially active is still better than just being social. Apart from the routine job, one should try to become members of organizations which work for some social causes. These organizations do not have any retirement age and the cause it caters to give a sense of purpose and usefulness along with the satisfaction of doing something for the society. The kids too imbibe the values of unselfish, voluntary work. Such organizations also bring together people with similar beliefs and purpose, so obviously we make good friends.
Most of us tend to nurture hobbies only till we get a full time job. Job and then marriage and kids spell doom for the activities we loved doing. Hobbies are not meant for kids only. These are activities which relax the mind, make us creative and keep us happy. Instead of giving up and forgetting all that you loved to do in your student days, start again with your kids, when they reach a certain age. Draw with them, dance with them, go hiking, indulge in creative writing, teach them the nuances of theatre, photography etc. Once you retire pick up the books you have always wanted to read but didn’t get time. Start painting and traveling again. Gardening is one hobby which keeps busy round the year. Refresh your old hobbies and smile again at your creations and explorations.
A healthy body means a healthy mind. Depression strikes the healthy too, but regular exercise reduces the chances of going into depression. This is because exercise releases certain chemicals in the body which keep the mind refreshed, happy and alert. A simple exercise like walking can give that all important feel good effect. Create a small circle of friends who can accompany you during the walks and exercise. This way you can also share your life with someone.
A whole new world of spirituality often remains unexplored, in our pursuit of career and parenting goals. Explore this and delve into an entirely new world which knows no depression or retirement.
Take up a job
After retirement jobs like social work, consultation, on-line jobs and other home based jobs keep one busy mentally and physically.
Whether you take up a job after retirement or not, it is important to maintain one’s social life. Keep in touch with all family members and friends and share your joys and sorrows with them. Their is no end to learning. Retirement gives us the opportunity to learn things which did not have time for, earlier. Their are unlimited places to visit and unlimited people waiting to share their experiences of life. Each new experience makes us richer and wiser. Sunset of officially active life can be turned into a sunrise of a free life where we begin to learn and explore once again, now with a more matured perspective!