FIRE Second Anniversary – ‘Kidult-hood’ Revisited

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Amazing.  It has now been TWO years since I blasted out of MegaCorp HQ and into our new lifestyle based on FIRE (financial independence & retiring early).  I guess that means the honeymoon period should have come to an end by now – except it hasn’t.  As I was told by many veteran FIRE achievers a couple years ago, I’ve found it might be true that this is a never-ending honeymoon.  In fact, I think I’ve simply discovered a new phase of life –  like a second childhood – but better!

My friend, John – a wise copywriter & insightful ad agency strategist – coined the term ‘Kidult’ when we were doing some research on kids many years ago.  He used the term to convey that kids grow up faster now than in previous generations and in many ways quickly learn the sophistication of adults.  Being a ‘Kidult’ means being part-kid and part-adult, which comes with distinct advantages & disadvantages.

In our two years of early retirement, I think I’m experiencing a new side of the ‘Kidult’ concept.  Early retirement is allowing me to enjoy the ‘Kidult’ phase a SECOND time – perhaps in a much more enjoyable way.  With far less pressure and angst than I might have initially experienced going through grade, middle, and high school, this ‘Kidult’ stage is the best of both ages.  I combine the confidence, wisdom, and resources that I have gained throughout adulthood with the unscheduled time and freedom to daydream that I had as a child.

It started when I first stopped going to work everyday.  I told people that I felt like a kid skipping school, but as an adult I couldn’t get in trouble!  I still wave at the MegaCorp HQ building in the middle of the day when I drive by on my way to a variety of childish activities.  Additionally, because I have the money of an adult, I can ‘amp up’ any of the experiences I had when I was a kid to the life pro level.

Here are some of the dimensions of ‘Kidult-hood’ that I’ve been able to reengage in after 30-35 years of adulthood …

SPORTS – As a kid, I was involved in sports teams every season of the year.  Now I’m back to being a 4 season athlete: playing tennis year round, playing on a summer softball team, wintering in a curling league (Go Team USA!), and filling out my seasons with golf, biking, and walking.  I’m more active & in better shape than I have been at almost any time in adulthood, thanks to my ‘Kidult’ schedule.

ENTERTAINMENT – Being a kid meant having time to go to the matinee movies like Superman, Star Wars, James Bond, or the latest Pink Panther.   As a ‘Kidult’, I can go to the movies any time I want and also have the money to go to a MLB / NFL / NBA / NHL game, see a great concert, comedian, or Broadway show.   I don’t even need to hitch a ride with anyone.  My wife and I even went to the Super Bowl in February – talk about a childhood dream!

VACATIONS – When you are a kid, Summer is when kids have no responsibilities and the family organizes trips.  All of life is a summer vacation for us now and we’ve zipped off to Wine Country, England & Scotland, Los Cabos, Miami & Caribbean, and to Japan.  Our son has gone with us when classes are out of session at college, but we’ve gone a quite a few trips as a couple, too.  This summer we are planning to go on a two week trip to the Holy Land with my brother and his wife.  In advance of that, we’re enjoying having time to brush up on our biblical understanding & Middle East history.

TOYS – Did I ever mention I loved LEGOs as a kid and still enjoy building them?  Oh yeah – so much so that my team gave me a LEGO gift card when I left MegaCorp.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve reassembled every LEGO model I had when I was a kid – and my son & I have added dozens and dozens more.  We literally have enough LEGOs now to make a Kindergartener say OMG. 🙂  Recently, I ordered a LEGO train set and warned my wife that this new hobby was likely to get expensive quickly!

CARS – From an early age, my brothers and I played with Hot Wheel cars and set up exciting tracks in our basement.  Later came learning to drive, cruising around, and teenage hijinx .  Unfortunately, as a grown-up, cars became just appliances that get back-and-forth to work.  While we bought a sports car a half-dozen years before we hit FIRE, i early retirement I’ve found many new opportunities to enjoy driving again with cruises, track nights, rallies, and car shows.

DRINKING – No, I didn’t drink when I was a kid, but I certainly acted like a kid in college – hanging out in bars, working at a liquor store, and DJ-ing at a dance club.  Grown-up responsibilities wear-down your ability to go out on a weeknight or hang out with a friend during happy hour, but now we increasingly go out for music, drink after a ballgame, discover a new tap room, or try new wines/drink recipes with friends at home.  When we took a vacation in January, the cruise line offered us a free drinks package as part of the last-minute deal they were offering.  We’re not big drinkers, but how nice it was to be able to walk up to any bar and grab something different.

FIELD TRIPS – Kids get to go on cool school field trips to museums, zoos, and other interesting places.  My Mom used to take us on family field trips, too – and those are some of my happiest experiences growing up.  Now we do the same whenever we want.  Weekdays – when everyone else is still busy running the world – is the best time to get out to see new exhibits at the science museum, art museum, or history center.  We’ve probably visited 25 museums in the last two years.

BOOKS – Going to the library or bookstore and bringing home a big bag of books was a childhood joy.  After a slow start since beginning our FIRE lifestyle, I’ve finally re-engaged in reading and have cracked through 4 books in the last 4 months.  In addition to reading books, just sitting down with my iPad or iPhone is a great way to spend an hour or two on a snowy day.

There are many other elements of ‘Kidult-hood’ that I’ve enjoyed frequently in our first two years of FIRE.  There is now plenty of time for taking a walk around the lake, listening to the music, enjoying photography, chatting with a neighbor, taking an extra spin around the mall, or trying your hand at a new hobby. 

As I wrote in a reflection on an episode of The Wonder Years, while growing up is the process of giving things up, early retirement lets you pick up your childhood anew. 

With respect to time, instead of squeezing time for efficiency, time is now used in a relaxed way – enjoyed and fully savored.  Kidult-hood revisited is the new Wonder Years.

Many people have asked for an update on how we spend our time and how the money is holding out after 2 years.  I will give an update on all of these things in upcoming posts and capture them under a “FIRE Second Anniversary” series heading.  In addition to living like a kid again, I promise you I have also found a number of purposeful activities to make our lifestyle feel useful.

Related: Life Wheel Update (2nd Anniversary)

Before I head off to start year three, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this time to say THANK YOU to you all who read these posts and comment.  I really enjoy the ongoing conversation and am amazed at the number of views, readers, and subscribers that follow our strange experiment into this wonderful life of FIRE and return to ‘Kidult-hood’.

Image Credit: Pixabay

20 thoughts on “FIRE Second Anniversary – ‘Kidult-hood’ Revisited

    • College days are the best, aren’t they? Still, even then you have class to go to and a life to prepare for. Now, I get the best of University – with no grades or performance anxiety!

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  1. I read (almost) every post — and will certainly be spending more time with your older posts as I think about my own retirement planning. This will be an invaluable guide to a successful retirement.

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    • Thanks, Michael – it has been a lot of fun sharing the journey. I had no idea that my goal to reach maybe a hundred readers through this blog would become so many thousands – friends & strangers!

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  2. Congrats on year two! I must say, it’s been incredibly satisfying and helpful to read your story. I’ve commented before, that I’m about a year behind you in the journey (I’m hitting my one year retirement anniversary next month.) Much of your writing hits so close to home, as I’ve been going through many of the same adaptations to this glorious rebirth as a “Kidult”. (BTW, I absolutely love the new term!…So fitting!) I tell my closet friends, it’s like being a kid again, and laying in the warm grass on the first day of summer vacation, staring up at the white clouds floating by and trying to decide which of the million ideas you want to do next, but instead, really just enjoying the moment and the warm sun on your face for the first time in nearly forty years! God… I love that feeling again!

    Anyway, just wanted to chime in and say, “Congrats and cheers! The ride is still just starting, and there are so many more moments to relish ahead!”

    …and Legos…who knew!! (Lol!)
    -Thom

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    • Thanks, Thom – No, staring up at the clouds all day doesn’t get boring does it!? I have a couple close friends that retired within a few months that I did and we often chat about the amazement with which we find ourselves now.

      I know that we won’t have just ‘one retirement’ – but several different phases of retirement with different focuses. Early retirees are different than retirees with grandparents, grandparents are different than widowers, widowers are different than people with severe health issues. I’m guessing this chapter if retirement is better than most and I am going to enjoy each day! #LiveFree

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  4. I love all of it, but particularly the part where you’ve rebuilt all your old Lego sets. We’ve got the pieces and the instructions for all of mine in our boys’ rooms now, but finding all the pieces would be a monumental task!

    Best,
    -PoF

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  6. Congrats. I often ask my retired patients if they regret it and only 2% do. So I think it would be fun to have all of the time in the world. As for me, legos would be awesome but I am not sure how you kept the sets together. D and D also sounds awesome, but how do you find people to play with?

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    • LEGOs are fun and there a lot of online forums with vintage collectors. I’m not sure about D&D, though.

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      • Ha I got my wires/blogs crossed. That’s what happen when you are in a bed at 6 am with a cold….alas. Legos it is….

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  7. Congrats on the second anniversary! Sounds like your having a blast. I love the concept of kidult! I can echo PoF’s sentiments about trying to find all the pieces to reassemble the lego kits my kids have acquired…it would be a tedious task.

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    • Thanks so much! It has all been fun. I think I’m going to have to share a picture of the LEGO collection now that I’ve outed myself!

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