Simply put, nesting means the kids stay in the family home after a divorce – it’s the parents who move in and out to take care of them. But what that means specifically, can be as varied as families are.
My ex and I and our three sons have been nesting for close to five years now. The logistics of how my ex Bill and I each live outside of the family home has evolved over this time. For the kids: their lifestyle has remained the same.
By giving some details about the paths we’ve pursued, I hope it will inspire you to pursue some creative options to make nesting work for your family.
Here are some ways families could nest:
- When not in the family home, one parent has his or her own residence and the other one lives with friends or family.
- Both parents share a place outside of the family home – though they never live there at the same time – as they take turns moving in and out to stay with the kids.
- Each parent has his or her own separate residence for non-parenting time.
- We have done some version of all three of these. And now we’re on version number 4 – which may be the most successful one yet.
How Nesting Has Evolved for Us
When we separated and were discussing divorce, an obvious approach was for me to spend a few nights a week at my parents’ house here in the same town. When it was my turn to be in the house with the kids, Bill stayed at an extended-stay hotel. It was then that we settled on a schedule of splitting our in-house time on Wednesday AMs through Saturday PMs schedule. We stuck with that schedule for quite awhile.
- Boys’daily life consistent: same house, no packing, no change to the school/home life routine
- I spent more time with my parents, who were gracious and supportive
- Bill found staying at a hotel depressing (not to mention expensive)\
- I was 43 and living with my parents (“gracious and supportive” only go so far — sometimes things were a little too reminiscent of my 17-year old life)
Keeping our boys in the house was definitely working well for them, and for us from a parenting perspective. So next, Bill and I decided to find an apartment near the house that we would share — never actually being in the apartment at the same time. We agreed it would be a temporary solution as we finalized the financial aspects of divorce and Bill looked for his own apartment; but we didn’t set a specific end date.
- Cheaper than each having our own apartment
- More comfortable than hotel life for Bill
- Me = not living with my parents
- Hassle of tidying up the apartment before the other person moved in
- Perhaps more difficult to emotionally separate – even though we were rarely in the same place at the same time, we were constantly living in the other person’s space (our divorce settlement declared the apartment mine and the house belonged to Bill)
After about 9 months of sharing the apartment, Bill got his own place in another part of town but within a few minutes’ drive of the house. I took over the apartment completely and moved all of my stuff out of the house into MY apartment (when I’m in the house parenting, I use in the guest bed and bathroom).
- We each had our own separate space when not in the house
- Dating became more appealing now that we each had our own spaces to entertain
- More expensive; as we each had apartment rent and utilities to cover – though we still figured it was cheaper than if we’d had to arrange for me to buy (and maintain) a second house
Our current situation. Bill’s job began to require more and more travel and he got a girlfriend who lived in another state (which also required travel, obviously). We’ve abandoned the Wednesday through Saturday schedule. I just come into the house when he is traveling. He usually knows his schedule a couple of weeks in advance and we balance out our parenting time with the boys as we go along.
- I continue to have my own separate space – my apartment — outside of the house
- I am at the house when he travels, taking care of it and dealing with any emergencies, contractor appointments, routine maintenance, etc.
- We don’t have a defined “nesting” schedule anymore, which means a little less predictability for the kids, but they roll with it fine
Change could come at any time. It could be job-driven, or relationship-driven, or … who knows what? We’ve worked hard to stay on the same page about goals for the kids’ lives, and to calmly discuss issues and options. I’m confident we’ll talk about it well in advance and work together to figure out what makes the most sense for our boys.
Bill and I have put a lot of thought, effort, and sacrifice into getting to this version of Our Family. It’s not always easy for us – but we’re the grownups and we’re motivated to make it work for our kids. We both feel pretty strongly about the importance of “home” for kids. Probably because that’s how we grew up: we each spent our formative years in the same house with parents who were married. Even though we couldn’t give our kids that exact scenario, we can give them the consistency of our family home, of all its memories, and the regular experience of all of us crossing paths there frequently.
I know you will find the right solution for your family, too.
[for learn more about our story and subscribe to nesting-specific content visit FamilyNesting.Org]