Splitting Time With My Ex in My Apartment Is Great for Our Children, But Awful for Me

Elle Silver

Nesting—or the practice of keeping one home for the children to live in full-time after a divorce—may be good for the kids, but it can be miserable for divorced parents as it means splitting time in the same residence.

Photo by Grégoire Bertaud on Unsplash

What happened to the parmesan cheese? I wondered on Sunday night after returning to my apartment after having been with my boyfriend all weekend. My son will only eat his pasta with parmesan cheese and there wasn't any in my refrigerator. It had disappeared.

He was hungry because my ex-husband hadn't made him dinner before he handed the kids back to me. It was puzzling I couldn't find the parmesan since I'd bought a new package just a couple of days ago.

I was exhausted and just wanted to get my son fed. That was why I was making him pasta instead of a more complicated meal. He had school in the morning, and I wanted to get him into bed.

But I couldn't find the parmesan, so I had to make my starving child something else to eat. That's when it dawned on me. I knew what had happened to the parmesan. My ex-husband had eaten it all.

How did that happen? My ex-husband stays with our children in my place on his nights with them. We "nest" as co-parenting divorced parents. As you can imagine, "nesting" together causes a lot of problems between my ex and me.

It might be best for our kids but it's awful for me.

What is "nesting"?

Nesting has grown in popularity amongst divorced parents as a way to create less instability for the children. Instead of passing the kids back and forth between two separate households, divorced parents make one space the home base for the children.

Nesting means the kids live in a single residence full-time and either parent takes care of them in that residence on their days with the kids. Think of two bird parents splitting up the duties of sitting on the eggs and then looking after the baby birds once they've hatched. My ex and I do this but as divorced parents.

We're not together anymore, but we're trying to create a stable living situation for our children. In most cases, divorced partners will rent two different spaces together. Say, they rent a house where the kids live full-time but they also rent an apartment where either divorced parent stays when it's not their time to be in charge of the children.

My ex and I didn't do it that way though. More, we oozed into this situation for the good of the children.

After we divorced, we had to give up our house. My ex and I each rented our own apartment.

The only problem was, our children were miserable at my ex's apartment because he never cleans. His place also only has one bedroom with only one bed, so our children have nowhere to sleep there.

Out of concern for my children's happiness, I allowed my ex-husband to stay at my place on his nights with our kids. I have the bigger apartment.

When my ex-husband is here with our children, I go to my boyfriend's place. But still, you can imagine how difficult this is.

In our case, we have very different ways that we keep house. My ex leaves my place a mess when he's here, just like he does his own.

Obviously, there are many reasons we're not together anymore and that's one of them. Also, he does stuff like eat my food.

He ate all my son's parmesan!

I've tried to get around this by hiding all my food when I leave. I put my non-perishable food items in my bedroom and lock the door behind me. I take perishables with me to my boyfriend's house.

But that makes me feel cruel because I leave the refrigerator empty for my children. My ex doesn't exactly go out to stock the refrigerator while I'm gone.

But I also don't think it's fair that my ex-husband gets to eat the food I buy since he gives me very little in child support.

I'll do anything for my children's happiness, though, and that's why we're in the situation. Still, I have a lot of mixed feelings about nesting.

Yes, it may be best for the children but it can be awful for the divorced parents.

What do you think? Would you ever "nest" with your ex in one house so that the kids don't have to move around a lot?

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I'm a relationships expert with a focus on post-divorce dating and family. Everything I've learned about love, I've learned the hard way. You can learn from my mistakes.

Los Angeles, CA

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