My ex and I had a nesting divorce. We all lived in the house during the week and alternated staying at an apartment on weekends.

My ex and I had a nesting divorce. We all lived in the house during the week and alternated staying at an apartment on weekends.
  • Mitzi Campbell is a 57-year-old mother of three

  • She and her ex-husband tried nesting during their divorce for five years, from 2007 until 2012.

  • She said nesting had its upsides but didn't lessen the blow for her kids when they split households.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mitzi Campbell. It has been edited for length and clarity.

My ex-husband and I started thinking about getting a divorce in 2007. It was totally amicable — we just knew that our relationship wasn't one that was going to last forever. At the time, we were living in a large house with our three children, the youngest of whom was 6.

There was a major economic crisis going on and we weren't in a position to sell the house and buy two separate properties. We were still in the middle of making the final decision if we were going to officially get a divorce. The term "nesting" — keeping the kids in the same family home while the parents move in and out — wasn't one we had ever heard of, but given finances and our indecision about splitting, it was how we decided to go about our separation.

We decided to try nesting

Since the house was large, we started by taking different bedrooms in the house and splitting our time with the kids. I would do the morning routine with the kids one day, and he would do the next. For a year, this worked.

But when we started meeting with a mediator and lawyer to finalize the divorce, we decided it would be best if we stayed in the house together during the week, but rented a separate, smaller place that each of us would take turns living in on the weekends. We both wanted more than just a bedroom to ourselves, and started to think about pursuing romantic relationships with other people. The "other" house was only 15 minutes away from the family home.

It was exciting — creating this new life for myself as an individual outside of my marriage. I loved having my own space. An unintended positive from this setup was that we both got space to process the divorce, and decide what we wanted our future lives to look like.

During the week, when we were both staying in the large house in different bedrooms, we hardly saw each other, but when we did, we were very amicable with one another. Our top priority was co-parenting well for the sake of our kids.

One of us stayed at an apartment each weekend

At first, the kids were sad when one of us would leave for the weekend. They didn't like it, but eventually, it became the normal pattern for them. We were both happy that the kids' lives didn't massively change as we divorced. They got to stay in one place rather than travelling back and forth with a suitcase.

They were a little confused about our set-up, however. Most of their friends either had married parents who lived together, or divorced parents who lived separately.

Although this set-up was healthy for my ex-husband and me to process our divorce and engage in self-care, I often found it lonely and missed my kids and my house when I was away every other weekend.

We lived like this for around two years, but it wasn't a financially sustainable way of living — it was just too expensive to keep paying our mortgage and rent for an apartment we were only using on the weekends, and our finances took a hit.. During those two years, we also both started dating new people, so we decided we'd stop renting the extra house and stay at our partners' places every other weekend instead.

This continued for another two years, before we finally decided to sell the house in 2012. We sold it and moved into two smaller properties, only three miles away from each other.

Throughout our five years of nesting, our kids were happy. They got to stay in their large family home, didn't have to travel back and forth to see their parents, and often saw us together. It was a slow transition for them, and I don't regret doing it.

However, there were some downsides I hadn't expected.

While nesting worked for the most part, there were some challenges

The years we were frequently living under the same roof but not a couple, the kids held on to the hope their dad and I would get back together. At times, it might have been more confusing for them than helpful, especially when my ex-husband and I started dating other people.

I felt like in some ways, we delayed the inevitable grief they'd feel when we completely cut ties with each other. When we did stop nesting and sold the house, they found the lifestyle change hard. Although I still think it served as a good transitional period for the kids, not having their mom and dad living together all of the sudden was really hard for them, even though we felt we had eased them into it.

They also had to move out of this very large home they'd lived in since babies, into two smaller houses. It was something of a rude awakening for them. With our finances split in half, we had to watch our money more carefully.

Divorce is severing, or at least changing, a connection, and you can prolong or try to mitigate the effects of this for your children, but in the long run, you all have to come to terms with a new world in which the parents are no longer sharing a life. If families are going to nest, a long-term plan really needs to be put in place, keeping in mind how that eventual change will impact the kids.

Read the original article on Business Insider