Getting divorced can be a highly stressful experience, especially if you have children. Even if the decision you and your spouse reached has come after multiple discussions and a lot of introspection, the consequences can be traumatic for the kids. It’s important to understand that you and your former spouse might be better off after separation, but any amount of conflict and negativity involved during and after the process will inevitably affect the children’s well-being.
To avoid this, ex-couples have come up with an amicable solution called birdnesting. More and more parents are adopting this trend to ensure the mental well-being of their children. According to the Coop Legal Services study, 11% of separated or divorced partners have already tried it.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how ex-couples are doing this. Let’s begin with what is birdnesting all about.
What Is ‘Birdnesting?’
Also known as ‘nesting,’ Birdnesting is a way of living that allows children to stay in their family home post-divorce, where each parent takes turns living and spending time with the kids. Based on the child custody verdict issued by the court, or agreed to by the parents, each legal guardian would rotate homes and stay with the kids during their custody time and move elsewhere when their duty time is over. The concept has been adopted from adult birds that fly in and out of their nests at different times to ensure the safety of their chicks.
Now that you have a fair idea of what is birdnesting, let’s study some of the benefits of this arrangement:
Benefits of Birdnesting for Children
Having the children bounce from one house to another can seriously disrupt their social lives and everyday living. For many children, this shifting back and forth between different locations means leaving their previous school and group of friends. Repeated changes like these from time to time prove both practically and emotionally challenging for them.
…More and more parents are adopting this trend to ensure the mental well-being of their children.
Also, parting from an environment your children have always known is never easy. This is one reason why children say divorce is no fun because leaving the familiar behind is among the most significant impacts they have to put up with. After all, who likes to have their routines changed every few days, weeks or months(depending on your co-parenting or visitation schedule)? Birdnesting is a solution through which parents ease one of the issues in a divorce to help their children
In other words, birdnesting results in minimal disruption to the children, allowing them to maintain the same wake-up time, mealtimes, bedtime, extracurricular activities, and homework schedule.
The birdnesting setup is not a one-size-fits-all solution that will work in all cases. Let’s take a look at the circumstances in which the arrangement works.
When Does Birdnesting Work?
Many experts strongly believe that birdnesting works during the short- or medium-term transitional period when everyone is adapting to change in relationships, properties are being settled, parenting arrangements are being made, and until long-term housing options are secured.
Moreover, for birdnesting to work, both parents need to be committed to the upbringing of their children. Both should be willing to put the needs and best interests of their children first and not prioritize their self-interests over their responsibilities as parents. To make the arrangement successful and viable, you and your spouse need to stay clear and calm, and value open communication. This also means that caregiving for the children should be equally shared between the parents. If one is a primary care-giver and the other only keeps visiting will only trigger more conflicts and issues.
More importantly, the parents must be very clear about the financial agreement for the shared household. It is strongly suggested to have a written plan outlining how the costs will be shared, including who will be paying for repair and maintenance, utility bills, gardening, groceries, school, and so on. One possibility is a joint account for just the birdnested house expenses, so that both parents have equal visibility. Each of the parent deposits a fixed amount every month and pay for any expenses from these funds.
To sum up, birdnesting is a modern, children-centric solution. As noted above, it is often a temporary solution while final arrangements are in process and can help ease the transition for children. If you have a cooperative relationship with your ex, then it is possible to birdnest for less disruption to your children’s lives.