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.
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