What do the retirees do?
I’m always curious what the retirees do in different countries. Obviously it’s related to the culture.
When I stayed in China for over 3 months, the Google was not available there. For any China-related search, I used Baidu, the Chinese search engine.
One day, I asked Baidu: “What do the retirees in China do?” The results were very surprising. The top result showed about the previous Chinese presidents and prime ministers, what they are doing right now. I know they are retired. But come on, I don’t care what they are doing. I want to know about the ordinary citizen retirees. Unfortunately the search results showed pretty much nothing, except some shallow chat sessions.
I talked to my friend in Beijing. She said to me: “Let me tell you what they are doing: they are babysitting their grandkids.” For many of the retirees there (not for all, of course), that’s probably a true statement.
While living in my mom’s village, I got chance talking to my childhood friends, cousins, and some of the neighbors. Yes, after retiring from the regular jobs, they (I mean most of them) became the baby sitters for the grandkids.
Usually the grandkids are living in another place. That means the retirees have to leave their own home, move in, and live day in and day out with their kid, and grandkids. That’s a full-time job of live-in nanny, cook, and house maid, without any pay.
Why can’t send the grandkids to the day care? Oh, parents don’t trust the strangers. The best caretakers are the grandparents, as both the young parents have to work.
How long will this honorary duty last for those grandparents? It depends. At minimum, it’s 2-3 years; at maximum, there is no end. Sometimes, the grandkids are already in the primary school. Grandparents still have to walk them to the school and pick them up. The trip could be twice daily, if the school doesn’t provide lunch.
Are the grandparents willing to be the babysitter? Do they enjoy doing that? The answer is no, and no. But they told me that, they don’t have a choice. It’s more an obligation, or pressure from the kids and the society. Everyone is doing that, how can you be the exception?
Living under the same roof with the kid, grandkids is not easy for everyone who is involved. That’s not an ideal retirement life for retirees, I feel. If you are looking for a way to test your patience, that’s probably the right place.
Everyone knows the challenges, but everyone is brave enough to embrace it. The truth is that, being a babysitter could be more challenging than the previously regular job. For a job, at least you can walk away for the evenings and weekends, and get a nice break.
I admire those grandparents who sacrificed their golden years to help the kids and grandkids. They are the heroes. Definitely they deserve tons of credit.
Is it really grandparents’ obligation to babysit the grandkids? I’m not that sure. The answer is probably no. But, sometimes it is so hard to say No, especially to the loved ones.
When you are working full-time, you can always say: “I like to, but I don’t have time to help you.” That’s a valid excuse. But, after retirement, you got tons of time at hand. What can you say? “Sorry, but I don’t want to help you.” It’s hard to say those words.
Fortunately I’m not at that tough spot yet. And I’m not that anxious to get there either. But as a parent, that’s a question I’ll have to answer sooner or later, if being asked.
Do you want to know what I have been doing since retirement? Please check it out:
- A lot of mores
- Learning Spanish
- Traveling and spending time with families and friends
- Reading, writing, smelling roses, and watching football
Dear readers, in your country, what do the retirees do?
Would you be willing to babysit your grandkids full time after retirement? Why?