A unique type of living arrangement post-divorce for some parents is the “nesting” arrangement. It is very centered on the health and well-being of the children, in that it is the parents who move back and forth rather than the children who have to keep changing households depending on which parent they are staying with at the time. During the time that the parent is not with their children, they can live in a separate household — and the parents can either share the two and rotate homes, or each can have their own separate place to go when they are not with their children.
It is unconventional, but children experience much less disruption in their lives, and routine is more stable for them this way. They know where their personal belongings are at all times. This can be a temporary arrangement, to help ease the children into the reality of divorce, or it can last as long as it works for everyone in the family.
This arrangement will not work for everyone, clearly. However, if both parents are co-parenting, live near each other, and can cooperate well, this can be an ideal situation. It also can help financially, as the second home doesn’t need to accommodate children, and could simply be a small one bedroom during the time when each parent is away from them. Additionally, parents don’t need to purchase two sets of toys or clothing for their children, as it all stays in the same place and both parents can use all supplies.
If a new partner appears on the scene, this might be more challenging since the other parent’s presence is essentially unavoidable, and privacy issues can make things difficult. If parents can separate their previous martial conflicts from their new goal of raising their children together, nesting can function quite well. Both need to be prepared to be consistent, work together, and communicate clearly on house maintenance and rules. As everyone settles into the routine, the rules can change or become more flexible, but it is important to establish clear boundaries from the beginning and stick to agreed-upon arrangements. Drafting a co-parenting plan with a mediator or a pre-negotiated schedule might be a great idea to help everything run smoothly.
Often once the youngest child grows old enough that both parents agree it is time to end the nesting arrangement, one parent can purchase the home or both can sell it at that time. The nesting arrangement is about making sure that children are shielded from as much disruption and anxiety as possible during a very tumultuous time in their lives. It is reassuring for children to know that even though their parents are divorcing, they will not have to change homes, friends, schools, or other routines that they are familiar with. While this can be challenging, parents who live in a nesting arrangements are commended for putting their children’s needs first and working out their differences for the sake of their children.