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Your Retirement & The Family Impact

Family is very important to me as that is the footprint we perpetuate. ~ L. Wilcox

When I moved into my own apartment – meaning no roommates – I was in a place that was carved out of a private home. One of my first experiences there was when I heard the door slam upstairs and the wife scream at her husband, “You have to get out of here! I can’t have you underfoot all day! Get out! Go play tennis or go golf or something but get out!” Needless to say, this is when I learned that half my landlord team had just retired. It wasn’t such a great start, in my humble opinion. I wish I could tell you it got better quickly but the reality is that they struggled for a long time. This particular couple is one of the examples I keep in mind when I work. While I never asked directly here’s what I pieced together; he had been a high-level executive, she had been working part time since the kids were in school and they had few activities outside of the house or the kids (who were all very much adults).

As we’ve talked about before it’s easy to think sometimes that our actions don’t have much of a ripple effect beyond what we can see in front of us but this simply isn’t true. As with any shift, our entire network of relationships change. The impact on our families can be the most dramatic because as you can see from the example above, a number of other people with whom we come into contact with are most directly affected.

Let’s start with some basics. In all likelihood, your financial situation will change, which will ripple out to any number of other places. Here’s a scary statistic: 59% of Baby Boomers are relying heavily on Social Security for their primary income. Scary for a number of reasons but one of the biggest is that Baby Boomers are also facing increasing numbers of adult children returning home or requiring major financial support. A drop in income for one will potentially mean an income drop for others.

Once a family member retires they are likely to be spending more time at home or in and out, at the very least. This has the very real potential to strain a relationship for a while until a new normal is established. This is one of the most common issues brought to me, “What will I do with him/her now that they are around and expect lunch every day?” Admit it, we all fall into routines that we like and don’t wish to give up so a ‘new’ person to fold into our schedules can feel like a challenge. What was once a nice thing to look forward to such as the arrival of a loved one home after a day away, now has the very real potential to become, “When are you getting out of here?”

Frequently, the unspoken expectation is that the newly retired person will have more time to spend taking care of an aging parent or going out with friends or be more available for chores and errands. If this isn’t what you were looking forward to, as the newly retired person, it would be handy to communicate that with those who may have such expectations.

As the newly retired person, you may also expect to have other family members more available to you to do things with. It will take some time to move to a new set of routines rather than getting up and having to be in the office or on the road. I know several people who, after first retiring, were shocked at how much time they could spend reading the paper!

As with any changes, I can’t urge you more to get clear on what and how you want to spend your first few months; and then communicate expectations to your family. You may wish to travel more but can they take time off of work or do they really want you to join a tennis club that will keep you out of the house more than if you were working? (Yep, one of my clients really did that…it didn’t go over well!)

Do you have a particular tip or even a concern you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Drop a line or give me a shout out on Facebook – you can find me under ‘themindfulretirement

Best for your week!

~ Lisa

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