Prior to my separation, I was completely unfamiliar with the term “nesting” as it relates to child custody. As we began to discuss what the living arrangements would be, we could agree on one thing. We wanted our children’s lives to remain as unchanged as humanly possible. We also knew we were extremely limited financially. Until we could sell the marital home it would not make sense for either to purchase a new home. We bought our house for a steal and even with that we don’t stand to make as much money as we’d like. The market in our area is still not great for sellers. So basically, after our initial conversation, we had made no progress and both felt doomed to a life of living together because we couldn’t afford any other options.
Then I had a thought. What if we leave the kids in the house and we go back and forth? It would mean only one house had to remain established for three young kids and they would get to stay in their neighborhood, in their beds, in the most familiar place to their little minds for a while longer. I hoped it would give them time to adjust to the new world of mommy and daddy not living together before they also had to adjust to new homes and new neighborhood friends. One adjustment at a time I thought. So I started researching what options we had.
Our solution has been this. We maintain the home for the kids. He continues to pay the bulk of the household bills and I pay all the daycare (it is a ridiculous amount of money to have 3 kids in daycare…don’t even get me started). We basically operate financially much like we did when we were married minus the joint bank accounts. He pays for his little apartment and I help with groceries and pay all of the kid incidentals like birthday presents, doctor visits, etc. It worked out to a pretty even split and we are good with that. We have 50/50 custody, one week on one week off. So when Sunday afternoon rolls around, we swap. He rolls in and I roll out…or vice versa. My kids have spent every night since the separation and divorce in their beds. A bag has not been packed that wasn’t an adult packing their bag to head out for the week.
I know this is a short term arrangement. There will come a time when we meet new people and want to cut ties from the marital home. We have discussed the fact that if one of us decides they want the house, they will have to refinance and essentially buy the other one out. Unless one of us decides to remarry before (highly unlikely) we will approach the subject again in one year. For the time being he has a small apartment (his “crash pad”…thank you Cuckoo Mama for all my terminology) and I head to my dad’s home on my weeks off. I am fortunate in that he works out of the country most of the year and his house sits vacant. That is my little crash pad.
There are definite downsides to nesting. For one…not much privacy for the adults. We agreed there will be no overnight visitors during our weeks with the kids. This isn’t much of an issue for me because when I am with the kids I want to be strictly with the kids…I haven’t even had a “daytime” visitor nor have my children met 40. That will happen in time and when I feel they are ready. But there is still a feeling that I am sharing a space with my ex-husband and sometimes I wonder if it is as strange for him as it is for me. It can also be a real drag to realize you forgot to bring socks…or a phone charger…or whatever else you will now have to run out and buy. I guess the upside to that is I almost have enough spares at dad’s place to be fully established in my temporary home.
We have managed to find more positives than negatives, the most important being our children seem to be thriving under this arrangement. I love that they have consistency and normalcy even when the grown-ups are feeling a little out of sorts. I love that it has meant they have had time to adjust and see that we are still a family even if we aren’t under the same roof all the time. It is also great that it is giving my ex and I a chance to work on our communication skills and patience with one another. You cannot nest without a good co-parenting relationship. You have more contact than you would in other situations and you have to be aware it can be tough at times not to bitch about the condition of the house when you arrive home. I have learned to just take a deep breath and remember that it could be much worse and I am fortunate to have an ex who is mostly tidy and doing the best he can. We do have an understanding that you should leave the nest the way you found it and for the most part we both have done an excellent job of it.
DivorcedMoms has been a lifesaver for this nesting momma. In particular, “This Cuckoo’s Nest” has kept me feeling sane. I suggest anyone considering nesting read her blog. She is wickedly funny and brutally honest about the ups and downs. Without her guidance at times I possibly would have thrown in the towel. She was the first nesting blog I came across and it is truly refreshing to read the story of another mom just trying to do the best she can for her kids given an unusual custody arrangement.
If you have any questions about nesting please feel free to reach out to me! I love to hear other families nesting stories. My email address is [email protected].
- Birdnesting Custody: Hooray For Alternative Custody Arrangements
- Birdnesting: So This Is It
- Child Custody: Which One Is Best For Your Child
- The Difference Between Sole and Joint Legal Custody