As parents move through the divorce process, questions of housing and parenting time surface. Ever since my ex-husband and I split several years ago, our three children have “nested” in the house we previously shared. They stay put in the nest, and we move in as we have our parenting time with them.
As I have traveled through these last four years and explained this situation to many people, I have been showered with accolades as to how awesome it is for my children. People have expressed to me that the stability I have provided them is an invaluable gift, selfless on my part, and clearly my ex and I have our priorities straight.
However, the glowing praise is usually followed by the comment, “that must be really hard on you and your ex.”
I couldn't disagree more. When I had my children I signed an unwritten contract with the universe to forever put their needs first. And honestly, I have always happily done just that. OK yes, I may complain about the endless carpools and activity expenses. But, I've never given a second thought to always putting their feelings of safety and security first. It’s just what you do when you have kids.
In the world of divorce, you often hear about parents entering their “post-divorce life” and so do children. Kids need to adjust to less time with each parent, changes in the family structure, and new traditions. My ex and I did our absolute best and kept as much as their lives as constant as possible while they went through the divorce transition. Some kids have to move to other towns or even other states when their parents get divorced. My kids kept their rooms, house, neighborhood, schools, friends, and pool club. They never had to worry about their favorite bedfriends, supplies for a school project, or where they were suppose to go after school.
Next, I’m usually asked how it works logistically in the house. No, my ex and I do not share any space. The house is big enough so we each have our own bedrooms. We each have plenty of storage space and both keep most of our stuff in the house. Plus, we are rarely in the house at the same time so we don’t trip over each other at all. When I move in for a week I spread out, and he does the same. On a side-note, the arrangement keeps me incredibly organized and continually cleaning out. It has worked wonders for my pack-rat ways.
And where do I stay when I’m not at the nest? Previously, I was living that time with my now ex-boyfriend. When we broke up I found myself homeless for about half of each month. I spent a bit of time in hotels, but that was boring, and tiresome, and food was an issue. Right now, there isn't money in the budget for me to get a permanent space (and I would only use it half the month anyway). I have two extraordinary friends who have opened their homes and families to me, one by my kids when I am in town and the other a bit of a distance but a great retreat for the weekends. Perfect situations.
How does it work with a potential partner? Finding a partner who understands the nest can be a challenge. Some people throw up resistance to that simply because they think it is weird. They need to understand it has all been done for the kids. Also, if you do go the distance with a person they may be living in the house with you when you are with your children and then somewhere else on alternate weeks. That might or might not be possible or just completely unacceptable to them.
So will the nest continue? I am shocked to say that it might be coming to an end. The girls are getting older, and they have told me they are ready and actually very excited about the possibility of moving between homes. But, true to form, my ex and I want to maintain this house for the girls, so I’ll stay here, in the nest. It is the only house they have ever known and we would like it to be part of their lives for a little longer. Also, I love the place, chipped paint, outdated kitchen, old carpet and all.
Personally, I would not have done this any other way, but I fully acknowledge it isn't for everyone. And that is perfectly ok. I sit here without judgment for however you are raising your children. Your post divorce life should resonate with you and you need to make decisions that are in the best interest of your own children given your own circumstances. There are so many factors to consider and they stack up differently for every person.