Let’s face it, adulting is hard. As a grown up, there are very few moments where we get to be truly free of our obligations. The majority of our time is spent working, running errands, attending networking events, socializing at holiday parties, and the list goes on and on.... Somewhere along the way, we inevitably get caught up in the chaos of being “an adult” and forget how to have FUN.
You remember fun, right? I’m not talking about the type of “fun” you have at a happy hour or a baby shower (actually, are those ever really fun?) I’m talking about the good old-fashioned childhood-type of FUN!
Do you remember having an allowance when you were a kid? Well, I certainly do. In exchange for emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and managing a few other household chores, my mother would pay me a weekly allowance of $5. As I began to hone my negotiation skills (i.e. nagging and pouting skills), this amount eventually increased to $10, and then $20 per week.
But no matter what my allowance was at the time, I was always selective of where these hard-earned dollars were spent. I mean, this was valuable time spent doing chores when I could have been watching The Real World vs. Road Rules on MTV- I paid for those dollars I earned!
Throughout my high school, college, and young professional years, money mindfulness has been the one stable responsible characteristic I’ve continued. Another defining characteristic of mine is to live life like Peter Pan in Neverland-enjoying all of the wonders of life with a smile. There are many ways to get the same childhood high without spending too much of your allowance - a.k.a. paycheck. Below are a list of a few fun yet frugal ways I tap back into my youthful spirit without breaking into the piggy bank.
1. Roll, Bounce, Rock, Skate!
This all-American pastime favorite is my current obsession. When I was in elementary school, my mother would drop me and my girlfriends off at the local roller rink on the weekends. I loved entering the front room, paying the doorman three dollar bills and following the wacky interstellar carpet towards the roller rink lobby.
Immediately I was distracted by the chaotic sounds coming from the arcade center - the pin ball machine dinging, the claw hand dropping and the air hockey disk splattering into the goal. I would pick up my size 6 hot pink roller skates, lace up as quickly as possible and jam onto the rink. I loved seeing the disco ball glitter across the shiny wooden floor, hearing the DJ’s eclectic Donna Summer disco melody mix while blowing watermelon-flavored Bubblicious Gum. In this moment, I felt completely free and alive.
A few months ago the roller skating bug bit me again and the fever hasn’t dissipated since. Even to this day, roller skating is a fun and affordable activity for friends, couples, and families. The minimal cost for entrance and skate rentals, starts as low as $12 at LeFrak Skate Center in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
If you’re looking for a more adult crowd with the same childhood enthusiasm Dreamland Roller Disco runs awesome seasonal themed-skate party events from that will leave you sweating (you will burn calories), smiling, and laughing like a kid again. Need a roller skating how-to refresher? Check out Planet Roller Skate on YouTube.
2. What’s Your Flavor, Tell Me What’s Your Flavor
Rocky Road, Mint ‘n Chip and Rainbow Sherbet. When I was on my best behavior or my mother had a serious sweet tooth, we’d hop in the car and take a ride to Thrifty’s Ice Cream. For less than a dollar, we'd get double scoop ice cream cones, stand outside on a hot day and attempt to savor it all before it melted away.
The ice cream always ended up dripped down my hands and onto my clothes. I quickly learned to enjoy the experience of tasting the various flavors, selecting my odd combination of tastes and toppings (especially gummy bears,) often to the chagrin of my friends and family. When I gained more earning power (allowance*) and freedom, I quickly took up buying more ice cream at the mall, from the neighborhood ice cream truck, or the grocery store.
As we’ve gotten older, sure, now there’s more sophisticated versions of ice cream; frozen yogurt, gelato and sorbet or even frose. Whatever your preference, this simple act of going into an ice cream shop makes me nostalgic for my childhood when ice cream solved all you worries and celebrate your victories. Fell and scraped your knee? The class bully call you a name? Lost your first tooth? Got an A on your test?
Enter ice cream.
Nowadays when I’m slightly tense and need a fix other than coffee or a cocktail, I’ll turn to ice cream. Likewise, when I’m feeling especially happy, I like to walk over to the gelato section at Eataly near the Flatiron Building and grab a single scoop of pistachio gelato for under $5. Nothing beats strolling through Madison Square Park, listening to the live jazz band, and people-watching with gelato! You’ll find people will be watching you as well, envious of your ice cream and your childhood enthusiasm.
“Never lose your childish enthusiasm and things will come your way.” - Federico Fellini
3. You Made Me a Mixtape?
If you weren’t fortunate enough to have your secret crush give you one, then you most definitely compiled your own playlist, or as we called it back in the day, ‘mixtape.’ I recall making my own and cleverly labeling them, ‘Grunge Mix’ or “Slow Jams” and playing them over and over. When the songs lost their appeal, I’d re-record a new string of America’s Top 40 over the old playlist.
When my bestie and I scored some birthday or holiday gift money, we’d go to The Warehouse and browse the rows of music. If we couldn’t afford an entire album, we’d hit up the CD singles wall, pick up the pre-Dre Beats headphones and jam out to Spice Girls or Nirvana. After a couple hours of browsing, we’d finally make our purchase.
Nowadays, streaming apps like Spotify make it affordable at a monthly membership of $10 to control your music purchases and make infinite mixtapes. If you need a playlist to match your mood (two hyperlinks), you can down load one or even better, create your own!
Think of all the songs that you had on repeat as a kid, especially, the ones your parents begged you to stop playing. Do you remember the songs played at your school dances or that was on in the background when you were on your first date? Make that playlist and reminisce your commute away!
Can’t think of any off the top your head? No worries, I made you a mixtape!
4. Who Are You Supposed to Be?
Who did you dress up as on Halloween when you were growing up? You favorite Marvel superhero or Disney character perhaps? Do you remember feeling invincible, pretty, or just plain ridiculous?
Costumes always gave me the chance to take on another persona-to be the center of attention for a moment and make people laugh. Nothing was better than getting dressed up and experiencing the anticipation before arriving to a party. I loved seeing the wigs, swords and fake mustaches throughout the room. The rehearsed lines or action moves always made me laugh until my stomach hurt and my face was wet with tears.
Okay, so Halloween is a while away, but why wait for it? Everyday is an opportunity to wear a costume. Whether it’s a birthday party, a nightclub outing with your friends or even just a Game of Thrones viewing party, you can wear a costume.
You only need what’s in your closet, or to borrow an item or two from a friend to make a costume. The best ones are those that are creative or don’t require much money. Got a wig, sunglasses and your girlfriend’s cardigan? Enter Kurt Cobain.
Challenge yourself by taking $10 cash with you into a thrift shop or Buffalo Exchange store and see if you can create a costume with buying only one or two items. You’ll surprise yourself with what you come up with.
The truth is, adulting is hard. Your responsibilities aren’t going anywhere, and there is always another Monday on the horizon. That being said, there is always another Friday, and another excuse to let your hair down and have some good old fashioned fun, even on a budget! The great thing about being an adult is that you can eat ice cream for breakfast, you can wear what you want, and you can come home after curfew.
My advice to you: ask yourself, what would childhood me do in this situation? Maybe it’s cry, maybe it’s laugh, but I can guarantee that childhood you would perk up at the thought of eating ice cream while roller skating over the Manhattan Bridge dressed as Britney Spears.