Is “Nesting” The Best Option For Your Kids?

When considering the best co-parenting plan for your children, some people conclude that “nesting” might be a solid option. Nesting is when the children remain in the original family home full-time, while the parents take turns moving in and out, based on the schedule established in their parenting plan. Below, we’ll explore some of the pros and cons of nesting to help you determine if it’s a good approach for your family.

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The Pros:

  1. Stability: Keeping the family home intact for the kids can provide a sense of stability in an otherwise turbulent time. The familiarity of their room, the neighborhood, the school and their regular routine can help mitigate some of the trauma of divorce, and give them time to adjust.
  2. Quality time: Nesting removes the constant packing up/picking up/dropping off of the kids, often allowing more quality time with each parent. It can feel more like having parents who travel regularly for business than being the travelers themselves.
  3. Real Estate: If it is not a good time to sell the family home, or if both parties anticipate a greater return on their investment in future, nesting can allow a divorcing couple to hold off on selling/splitting this particular asset.
  4. Buying Time: Divorce can bring a great deal of upheaval to your life, and you may not be prepared to make major life decisions. Nesting can buy you the time and space you need to work through the finer points of establishing your new life.
  5. Solidarity: Some co-parents appreciate nesting, for the ability to maintain common “house rules” and schedules, and to better monitor everything from chores and homework, to calendars and diets. This can help mitigate some of the anxiety of not knowing what’s going on at “the other” house, and help parents stay on the same team.

The Cons:

  1. Instability: While nesting provides a sense of stability for the kids, it creates instability for the parents. Regularly packing up and moving between residences is stressful and exhausting and can affect your work, your relationships and your ability to establish your new life, independent of your former spouse.
  2. Real Estate: As most divorcing couples would prefer not to become roommates, nesting generally requires the maintenance of two and perhaps three residences, the family home, and a place for each parent to live when not at the family home. Even if the parents choose to reside alternately in a small apartment during their “off” time, expenses can add up quickly.
  3. Chores: Nesting can increase the amount of “life maintenance” you have to do, whether it’s cleaning, shopping for groceries, or fixing things around the house, your workload will naturally increase with the number of households you’re required to maintain.
  4. Emotional Triggers: While some people find it truly comforting to keep the family home intact, others find it difficult to manage sleeping in their marital bed, eating at their dinner table, and snuggling on the couch without their spouse. Constant reminders of what used to be can impede the healing process and make it difficult to build a new, independent life.
  5. General Triggers: Whether you and your ex fought about the proper way to load the dishwasher, or the setting on the air conditioner, chances are the same things that annoyed you while you were married will continue to crop up. Nesting will require hyper-vigilance and a great deal of mutual respect and consideration to avoid revisiting old frustrations.
  6. Relationships: As you and your ex move on and develop long-term relationships, it can be difficult to navigate the rules of engagement. Is the new partner permitted in the old house? Will the kids be permitted to visit or stay in the new home you’ve established with the new partner? As life moves forward, you may find that nesting brings unexpected challenges.

Summary:

In our experience, nesting can be a great option for co-parents who have the financial means, the flexibility and the maturity to work together to maintain the family home for the stability of the children. Confident, relaxed parents are the key ingredients to secure, happy kids. When considering the best co-parenting plans for your family, it is wise to be very honest with yourself about what you need to establish a solid foundation for your new life. If moving in and out of your marital home is going to leave you feeling stressed and frazzled, or trapped in a cycle of old arguments with your ex, it will likely cancel out the benefits of nesting for your children. Likewise, if you have a great relationship with your ex, and the whole family is on board, ready to pitch in to maintain a nesting scenario, it can be a great way to sustain a sense of normalcy and routine for the kids, and to demonstrate solidarity among parents. Either way, it should be noted that most nesting situations we’ve mediated have been temporary and transitional, rather than long-term solutions. Knowing that, parents who choose nesting as the right option today should be prepared to re-negotiate and re-submit an updated parenting plan in the future.

If you are interested in creating a functional parenting plan through mediation, contact us today.