"Weekend, what's a weekend?"

by Alfred Gora

...I heard that line once when watching Downton Abbey, a hit show about a bunch of royal parasites living the good life whilst the folks below had barely a moment's breath.

I used to wonder the same myself when weekends came because as a high school teacher weekends were just more work, what with grading papers and posting grades and writing lesson plans and all.

No staff under me to care for needs, I had to cook and clean and do laundry and walk the dog and then get to work preparing lessons and cleaning up the class work to keep my students and their parents and the administrators off my back.

I loved my students, loved them as my own and they knew it, but that kind of affection comes at a price. I decided to retire at 55 because my district was offering early retirements due to budget cuts, so I took the offer and left without saying goodbye to my kids (got a lot of angry e-mails from them for leaving them, but, it would have been more painful for me to say goodbye in person).

Here I am now, six years later, and missing my students and the challenges, even when I had behavioural issues and had to deal with their dramas.

I now live in Europe, have a good life, are doing what I loved most, painting, and even have a nice studio. But, the emptiness does not abate, and I so wish I were back in the classroom. It is nerve racking sometimes and if it were not for my studio I'd kill myself!

How does someone with no interests outside work survive this?

Luckily my wife is still working, and I do the cooking and the cleaning at home and drive to my studio when I need to which is often. I am a work junkie, I love stress, I love work, and absolutely hate retirement. But, going back into a classroom full or even part time is out of the question.

I am now 62, and in good health, no issues with money, and I still get anxious. I tell myself, small steps, it will get better. I am still waiting for that moment when i can say, "wow, I love this new life!"

Even when everyday feels like a weekend....

Comments for "Weekend, what's a weekend?"

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Teach others how to paint!
by: Mike - NJ

Alfred - I read that you love to paint. Have you considered teaching others how to paint? A local school or community center might be interested in offering a class that you could teach. Also, do you sell your paintings? If you can't sell out of your studio - maybe you could sell your paintings at a local weekend market or through a local gallery or gift shop.

Know Exactly How You Feel
by: Jim (Southcoast MA, USA)


I read your story, and was amazed at the similarities in our retirement struggles. With the exception of teaching, that story could have been written by me. I retired at 62 at the end of 2014 happy to be rid of long commutes, and the grind of standing for 8 hours a day.

The day I retired my wife and I set off on a four-day drive to our retirement home in the southwestern United States. I, like you, had never developed many interests outside of work. Days turned to weeks, then months of inactivity. With inactivity came boredom, frustration, and sadness. It affected my wife to the point where she pretty much insisted I seek counseling. I have been to a few sessions and it seems to be helping. I'm not advocating counseling, it's probably not for everyone. (I never expected it to happen to me.)

It may sound cliche, but it does take time. My guess is that you miss to some degree the structure of teaching, but more so the feeling of purpose you had in teaching and molding young lives.

Listen to the good people who have commented here. I wrote a similar story to this site a few months back, and received a great deal of encouragement. Believe us when we tell you it will get better. You must be a man of great patience to have been a teacher for so long. Use this patience to ride out the tough days.

I wish you all the best and know you will persevere.

Join Us!


Your comments are all too familiar for those of us who have been living in the world of retirement for some time now...(5 years for me).

It has been a difficult adjustment but you are definitely not alone. What I learned thru this transition is that life is a changing process. We often become comfortable in one place and suddenly find ourselves in a very different place.

Please click on the right hand "Friendship Here" link and you will find lots of wonderful friends who understand your predicament.


Identify the Elements
by: JoAnn

I, too, was a teacher who loved the job, but does not want to return to the classroom.

Perhaps it would be helpful if you identified the elements you liked about the job and try to replicate them in different activities.

For instance, I love teaching, so I volunteered to teach English as a second language.

I love organizing, so I organize my home and personal finances.

I love reading and discussing literature, so I joined two reading groups.

I love chatting with my friends, so I meet them at the coffee shop to talk.

I like crafts, so I make greeting cards and put photos in albums.

These activities might not be "your cup of tea," but I am sure you could make a list of your own.

Identify the processes you enjoy an go from there.


by: Mary AZ

It is understandable that after a certain amount of time you were maxed out with teaching. It is not as easy as some people believe.

I would strongly recommend you do some tutoring or perhaps substitute teaching. Nothing full time but enough to have the ability to impact a life or two.
Don't give up. It does get better.

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