My Ex & I Have Lived in the Same House Since Our Divorce — Here's How We Make 'Nesting' Work

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In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of “nesting”, it’s when the children stay in the family home and the separated, or divorced, parents take turns moving in and out to care for them. The appeal for divorcing parents is that nesting provides the children with the comfort and consistency of their home life during what could otherwise be a very unsettling time in their young lives.

Nesting is also significantly less stressful for the children than moving back and forth and keeping track of belonging between two separate residences. Another appeal is that nesting can be much less expensive for the family than setting up two separate homes, each of which has to be fully equipped to support and raise the children. Nesting offers a less traumatic, more conscious way to ease the children – and the parents – into their new post-divorce life.

Nesting is often considered a temporary solution as the divorcing parents transition into a traditional two-households scenario. However, many nesting families — including my own, with my ex and our three children — find that it just made sense to continue nesting for longer than they originally intended. In our case, we began the nesting experiment with the intent of it getting us through the first year. We are now starting our ninth year!

When we separated and decided to divorce, my ex and I wanted our kids’ home life to stay consistent while we took some time to figure out the finances and logistics of what would come next. However, as we hit our stride with nesting, we found that the benefits went beyond what we even initially envisioned. Nesting just continued to make sense for our family and benefit our children. When asked how long we were going to keep doing it, our response became, “Until we have a good reason not to, I guess?”

In the many years since we divorced, we’ve seen our oldest off to college out of state, though, of course, he still comes home (to the “nest”) during breaks and vacations. Our middle child is getting ready to leave for college in the fall. Our youngest still has high school ahead of him. We intend to keep nesting for the next few years as we figure out what situation will make sense for each of us, and our significant others, when our youngest leaves the nest. My ex has remarried, and I recently became engaged. We each are fortunate to have found people who support our nesting efforts and are kind, caring presences in our kids’ lives.

Looking back, I don’t think either my ex or I could have ever imagined the positive situation we enjoy now. I recognize that we were fortunate in many ways that not every divorcing couple enjoys: stable careers, supportive family nearby, and both of us working hard to put our goals for our children’s lives above our egos and the tough emotions that surround the end of a marriage. Figuring out nesting — and divorce —certainly had many challenges at first. It was all uncharted territory for both of us. But we gradually settled into our nesting co-parenting routine, and the arrangement got easier the longer we were in it. The post-divorce emotions cooled and, when we weren’t actively parenting, we each had time to concentrate on our now-single lives, our outside interests, and our careers.

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