One of the most challenging aspects of a family separation is the changed living arrangements. For this reason, an increasing number of ex-couples have chosen a slightly alternative way of living called ‘birdnesting’.
Birdnesting is when the children continue to live in the family home on a permanent basis and the parents move in and out to care for the children during their agreed custody time.
Although this might seem like an entirely new concept to some, according to BBC.com:
“Divorce lawyers have reported an increase in birdnesting in places including the US, Australia and The Netherlands. A recent UK study by Coop Legal Services suggested that 11% of divorced or separated parents have tried it. In Sweden, where equally shared child custody has been commonplace for decades, some divorced parents have rotated homes as far back as the 1970s.”
The reason for this increase in bird nesting is due to its many advantages which will benefit your children now and long-term.
BIRD NESTING IS CHILD-CENTRIC
Making the decision to keep the family home for the sake of your children is one of the most child centric decisions you can make during your separation.
Birdnesting demonstrates you are putting your children centre stage and focusing on their requirements as children of divorce.
Depending on the age of your children, this will not be lost on them. They will understand you have put their needs first which will mean a lot to them and help them to process the separation more effectively.
STABILITY FOR EVERYONE
With separation comes instability, especially for our children who have no say in it.
For this reason, consistency is hugely important. And what can provide this more than the comfortable space of the family home?
Whether for the children who live permanently in the house or the parents who go back and forth, the family home can be akin to a safe ship on a choppy sea.
IT SLOWS THE PACE OF CHANGE
Separation is a time of great change. And change can be scary for everyone.
By making the decision to bird nest in the familiar surroundings of your family home, you can slow the pace of change.
Bird nesting might be a temporary solution and you ultimately sell the home and co-parent your children in two separate homes, but that can be further down the line.
Keeping change minimal and slowing the pace is less distressing for everyone but most importantly, your children.
LOGISTICS ARE EASIER
One of the most stressful aspects for children living between two homes is the logistics. By this we mean the constant moving around of belongings such as school uniform and homework alongside their beloved personal processions like favourite toys and teddies.
Bird nesting eliminates this altogether as your child continues to live in their own spaces surrounded by the belongings they know, love and need.
Yes, parents have to pack up and move according to the custody plan, but surely we are better-equipped to organise ourselves for this level of disruption.
Taking pressure off our children this way is a wonderful gift to them.
Further reading: How to help your children live happily between two homes.
Keeping the family home at the time of your separation can prove cost effective for several reasons.
The property market might not currently be on your side and the sale won’t generate enough for two separate homes. Keeping the home and selling when the time is right and emotions are more stable is a sensible financial move.
Some ex-couples keep the costs lower still by buying or renting one small apartment which they move into when not in the family home, instead of having one each.
Prices also compare favourably when you consider selling the home and buying or renting two separate homes where you need to duplicate the purchasing of furniture and home comforts in both.
BIRD NESTING CAN ROLE MODEL GOOD CO-PARENTING
As challenging as co-parenting is, it is a great way to role model to your children what a low conflict relationship can look like between their parents when they have separated.
Working together as co-parents to reach peaceful amicable outcomes, such as choosing to bird nest in the family home is a great example.
Remember, your children are watching! If mum and dad have worked together to retain their home and in-turn have created a more peaceful living arrangement, it will decrease their separation stress.
Further reading: 6 Reasons to embrace co-parenting.
PARENTS CAN HANDLE IT BETTER
As adults we are better equipped than our children to handle everything about divorce and this includes moving between homes.
We have the benefit of experience to be organised and the maturity to cope with the adjustments needed to inhabit two homes.
Bird nesting is a brilliant way to take the burden off your kids whilst allowing them to thrive in the home they love.