Divorce is often difficult for every family member, especially the kids. Divorce inherently brings numerous changes to a child’s life, but there are some ways parents can help ease their children into those changes. One way you and your ex can do this is by implementing a parenting situation called “birdnesting.”

Birdnesting allows children to stay full-time in the marital home, instead of switching from one parent’s house to the other parent’s house. Although the children maintain a consistent residence, birdnesting still allows them to maintain frequent contact with both parents. To make this work, the parents take turns caring for the children in the marital home according to their custody schedule.

Whats the catch?

There are many benefits to birdnesting. You will not need to help your child pack a bag every other week or deal with forgotten items, like that stuffed animal your youngest cannot sleep without. You and your ex may not have to fight so hard over who gets to keep the house, and your children will not have to get used to a new home on top of all the other changes that cannot be avoided.

However, apartments are expensive. Typically, parents cannot afford to keep the marital home and each have their own apartment. Instead, birdnesting parents will share an apartment, which they each occupy individually when not with the children. Although this may not be ideal, this apartment can usually be smaller than it would have had to be to accommodate the children living there part-time. 

Another less than ideal aspect of birdnesting is that it can be ripe with the potential for the same type of arguments parents wanted to end by getting a divorce. Someone does fewer chores around the marital home. Someone else used all of the laundry detergent and forgot to buy more. Then, things can get even more complicated when someone invites over his or her new significant other. Because of the potential for conflict, birdnesting may not be an appropriate choice for those who already have a high-conflict relationship with their ex.

The key is limiting the duration of birdnesting

To make the most of a birdnesting, parents often opt to limit the duration of the experience. Birdnesting for up to six months can allow the children enough time to comfortably transition to life after divorce, while also minimizing the potential for parental conflict.

Birdnesting may not be an appropriate choice for every situation. However, it is a parenting situation that puts the children’s needs first.