Busy Philipps and her ex use ‘nesting’ custodial time, take turns at the same house

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Busy Philipps and her ex, Marc Silverstein, divorced last year after being separated for some time. They’re co-parenting their two girls, Birdie, 14 and Cricket, nine. In speaking with Yahoo Life’s So Mini Ways parenting series, Busy said she and Marc are using the ‘nesting’ strategy, where the girls stay put and Marc and Busy come and go. And while their living arrangements are consistent, Busy said their rules can vary. But, she said, she thinks that’s true of any parent, because it’s just too hard to monitor.

Philipps and her ex-husband Marc Silverstein use a “nesting” strategy when it comes to parenting, meaning her kids don’t move households but she and Silverstein do, taking turns coming to their family home and returning to separate residences. Still, Philipps knows there’s no way to have a standard set of house rules for her kids that remains no matter which parent is in charge.

“I don’t think you can,” she explains. “Married, divorced — I have no idea if that has ever worked for anyone, ever. Kids are so great at knowing which parent to go to when they want to have candy, and which parent to go to when they need help with their math homework. We try to have consistency, but with the understanding that hey, maybe Marc has had a hard work day, and he’s exhausted, so he lets them have more screen time — it is what it is. It’s a part of being adaptable in parenting as you are in life.”

[From Yahoo! Life]

As far as nesting (I didn’t realize that’s what it’s called) has anyone done this? I see the logic in it for the kids. Do the parents share a single residence for their night without the kids? Otherwise that would mean the family would need three residences. That sounds like the couple would need some extra income for this option. In theory, I think I’d like a space that was all mine. But that also means maintaining two homes: mine and the one with the kids. And I have another question, in the stable residence, where the kids are – do the parents share the same room or do they have their own room in the house, like the kids would if they were traveling between their parent’s houses. I’m so curious now. I’d assume, though, that kids’ lives are easier to make mobile that parents. But that could be my ignorance. I guess the best post-divorce living solution is whatever works for each family.

As for the difference in parenting rules, I see what Busy is saying. It’s true, two people are always going to do things a little differently. It’s important not to contradict the major family rules, but a little extra screen time or whatever does happen on occasion. Busy’s been vocal about Marc not pulling his weight with the kids, if his biggest infraction is giving too much screen time now, I’m sure she’s counting that as a win.

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42 Responses to “Busy Philipps and her ex use ‘nesting’ custodial time, take turns at the same house”

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  1. Danbury says:

    I have a friend who did that. He and his ex wife each rented small apartments so they could have their own space, and then they’d go back and forth to the former family home (also an apartment) where the kids didn’t move. It cost a ton of money but both parents were working with good jobs so it was doable.

  2. Ang says:

    A friend tried nesting, but she and her ex did NOT get along so it did t work. Even though they didn’t see each other, just being around their stuff, the urge to snoop, evidence of new partners, all of it was too awful.
    But if the couple were friendly, I bet it’s the best option for the kid. Back and forth sucks (I remember).

    • Myeh says:

      This. I have a client who has this arrangement post divorce. Her ex hasn’t moved on and messages her constantly when we are working together. Pretty much anything she does is because she’s trying to impress another man. 65 year old yard landscaper-definitely a jump off! Getting in shape for a mud run… Obviously trying to catch the eye of another participant. Grocery and smoothie delivery person totally to check out a young college bound person. I bring in a helper to carry equipment in its a potential orgy set up and irresponsible in front of the kids….. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t a regular occurrence. Just another way to exert control

  3. Normades says:

    Definitely a rich person arrangement. I imagine both Busy and her ex have their own places each on the side and separate bedrooms in the nest house.

    • R says:

      Don’t think it’s a rich parent thing, it’s a fairly new thing though, it’s supposed to be more stable for the kids. I’ve heard and seen parents renting a studio/small space for themselves, while the kids stay in the house that the parents bought when they were together.

      • Normades says:

        Then they are still paying mortgage and taxes on a joint home and adding rent of another. Even small spaces in a big city is expensive.
        I agree there are ways to do this if you are not rich but in a big city with no family or other partners you definitely would need two good incomes.

      • Jen says:

        @Normades I mean, it’s the one family home + rents on two small places, or each parent then maintains a family sized home (whether renting, or buying with a mortgage.) It might not always work, but I wouldn’t dismiss it as only a rich person option.

      • Fabiola says:

        I’m middle class and would not be able to afford a small apartment for myself and my husband would not be either so it is a rich person arrangement. Let’s not get it twisted.

    • R says:

      not saying it’s not expensive, but I was trying to say, regular middle-class folks are trying this arrangement too. This type of arrangement is actually the most preferred method, mediators, judges and therapists recommend this type living arrangement whenever it’s possible from where I live in Europe. But yeah, you’re right, in most cases, the divorced couple has already moved on with a new partner or has some type of help from the grandparents.

      • Lilacmaven says:

        Maybe the average middle class family in Europe can afford this arrangement, most Americans could not. Not even outside big cities.

        You’d have to be wealthy or very much “upper middle class” to afford this in the States.

      • Fabiola says:

        Regular middle class folks cannot afford this arrangement. Most couples that divorce usually have to even sell their marital home because it is too expensive on a one person income compared to a two person income. So even just maintaining the marital home takes up most of one’s income. How are they then supposed to get another place to live in . Most divorces are very expensive so there isn’t even that much money left over for a family to maintain three separate homes unless you’re rich.

  4. ML says:

    Friends of ours did this for a while as well. First off, I live in Holland so the dad had friends with a campground where he could park his camper/ van. The mom’s father had a farm and she had a small set-up there. It worked fairly well while they did it. The father has moved due to work and the mom now has both “most” custody and the house.
    Edit: Our friends are not rich, it’s just that because of their friends/ family set-ups, they were able to make this work when both parents lived close by.

  5. Lens says:

    Instead of splitting up, selling the family home and both parents getting separate residences you keep the family home and both parents get separate apartments is how I always understood this arrangement. Definitely for the well off. I can see why she does it. She moved to New York from LA during Covid to do a TV show but her ex stayed mostly in LA (he’s a screenwriter). They bought a home upstate I believe then split up.

  6. Moderatelywealthy says:

    Techinically, all one has to do is to keep the main family home and rent a studio somewheer with basic necessities. It would be packing and unpacking every couple of weeks though, but not necessarily more expensive.
    If the couple do not want to seel the shared home or has one of the very good and cheap rent agreements one cannot get anymore, it would even make economic sense. But yeah, when we hear of this arrangement, we immeditaly think ” three homes, rich parents” .
    The most famous examples were Ingrid bergman and Roberto Rosselllini When they divorced Ingrid rented a hotel suite fin Paris for the twins and their son. A nanny would always be there as the parents took turn in the hotel. they were artists, so they were always travelling and working. They made Paris their base.
    there was also a comment made here that Dara and Edo do that. Again, a rich parents situation, but as I said, it could be done by us mere mortals.

    • Saschafrom76 says:

      Clearly you’re from bum phuck nowhere because no way in heck what you’re saying is true in California or 3 states in – same for the east coast, and no thanks to those areas

      • Petal says:

        Yeah, this is impossible/ridiculous for anyone I know except perhaps one woman I know who makes about 200k a year. So I ran it by her and she just laughed at the way it was being discussed as so “doable” on here.. I make decent money but I also live in California. I can barely afford my place. No way could I afford a second place even if it was a hovel.

  7. SKE says:

    I have friends who did this, at least for a few years. But they also had a small rental property nearby they could use as a crash pad that they both used so it wasn’t really any more expensive. The kids always stayed at the main house. It seemed to work well but they were very amicable.

  8. Sarah says:

    I also had two sets of friends who did this. One set rented a small apartment and they took turns staying in the apartment alone or in the house with the kids. Their divorce was not amicable but they did this for about a year before he bought her out of the house and she bought her own place.
    The other set of friends each had a place with a friend who had a spare bedroom for a few months while they worked out their next steps. Their divorce was amicable and it worked well. They eventually sold the house and got their own places.

  9. SAS says:

    When I was in primary school (talking over 20 years ago) a friends parents had this arrangement. They weren’t rich so shared the “alternate” apartment on their weeks off too. It was so amazing for my friend and her sister but I think it would be so difficult to not have your own space after a separation. Perhaps when the kids got to high-school age they split households but I know a few families at the time (including my parents) that gave them all the credit in the world for the effort.

  10. Kat says:

    I took family law in law school and I remember reading about this type of arrangement. Apparently it is common enough in Canada that family law textbooks discuss it. I have the same questions about whether the parents both use the master bedroom when they are at the family home!

  11. MeTotheT says:

    My ex-husband and I have a very good co-parenting relationship. For example, we still do family night every Friday. And even though we both work hard to prioritize choices that try to not disrupt our boys’s lives anymore than we already have by getting divorced, I would not want to do the “nesting” arrangement. I love my kids very much and it breaks my heart that we are divorced and the now need to do the ‘schlepping’ back and forth. However, my ex-husband and I have different ideas on what constitutes cleanliness/tidiness. While I absolutely did not want the divorce and fought against it for the longest time, one of the upsides of it has been that my house is clean and not cluttered with miscellaneous one-off junk (think the stuff you get in a happy meal). The boys also know that when they are at mom’s house, they are expected to put their dishes in the dishwasher, coats in the coat closet and dirty clothes in the hamper. None of this happens at their dad’s – which is his choice. So for me I love that I no longer have to pick up after a grown ass man. I think “nesting” would complicate that very much.

    • Normades says:

      Totally understandable. If I got divorced I wouldn’t want to have to share the “spare” apartment, see my ex’s stuff and take turns sleeping in the same bed. I would absolutely want my own place 100% of the time.

    • tealily says:

      I hear this. Surely the upside of a divorce is you don’t have to share your space with the ex-spouse! Nesting sounds so hard.

  12. SJ (they/them) says:

    We half-did this when my ex and I broke up (our son was only 1 at the time). Our son and I were at our shared home full-time (I wasn’t dating) and my ex went back and forth between our shared home & his new partner’s place (whichever new partner he was with at the time). We kept it going for almost 5 years. If I had started dating at some point we would have started alternating schedules where I’d stay at my new partner’s place when my ex was at our shared home & vice versa. Worked super well.

  13. phedre says:

    Just as an FYI – Busy’s oldest child is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

    • Nicole says:

      Came on here to say the same. Please don’t use gendered terms like girls unless you know know KNOW that suits the people. In this case we know Birdie is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns and thus this terminology is, even inadvertently, disrespectful.

  14. Ihatepeople says:

    Sounds great if you are rich. Only the rich could do this. However great for kids so if you can do it right (parent have own bedrooms and separate houses). Awesome.

  15. Duch says:

    My ex and I did this for 4 years, when kids were teens. Basically he got a small apartment and then every other weekend he would come to the house and stay. I would just stay at a local cheap hotel during my weekends away. I had a couple of “go bags” – one was “kitchen”, one was “living room” one was “bath/bed”. And then i packed a suitcase each time. I had no desire to stay at my ex’s apartment.

    My ex would also spend an evening each week with each kid – usually just dinner at a restaurant.

    From the kids perspective it worked great and they both needed that stability. I actually enjoyed stepping away for a weekend. And so it worked out well.

  16. lucy2 says:

    I don’t know anyone who has done it, but for an amicable divorce where it’s affordable, I think it seems like a great option for the children, so they aren’t moving back and forth all the time. I imagine it’s harder for the parents, and I would want my own apartment, not to share with the ex though.

  17. Mandy says:

    This is such a rich person’s thing! In this economy most people can barely afford one home, let alone two or three, even a studio and a mortgage is out of reach for most working people. I can see it working until one of them starts seriously dating someone then it’s gonna fall apart.

  18. arhus says:

    my parents did this when they first separated. they even shared a 2-bed apartment for when one was at the house. It was really nice and eased the transition much better I think than a sudden move. They did eventually move to separate houses which were less than a mile away from eachother. They made it very easy on us kids.
    Also, this was in the late 90’s in a small town in Colorado, so more affordable for them than NYC,

  19. Borgqueen says:

    The first time I heard about this Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler did this. Travis was adamant that the kids have a stable home.

  20. Frippery says:

    Yes, every family should strive to do what is best and healthiest for their particular family dynamics.

    A ‘stable’ home doesn’t necessarily mean a fixed home though. It can be much more stable for a child to have their own space with each parent where they can feel loved and safe, even if they have ‘two rooms’. This is especially true if it means each parent can have *their* own space to feel safe and have ownership over, without having to constantly interact with their ex’s possessions, or food choices, or worry about what their ex will think if they do this or buy this. A happier calmer parent can be a better parent, and this just seems so stressful to me. But again, that’s for my family’s dynamics .

    Also I can see my ex leaving me a note saying, “Frippery, I see that there are six cheese sticks fewer in the refrigerator than when I was last here. I am disappointed that you are not doing more to offer healthy snacks to Frippette. I will be speaking to my lawyer about this concern.”

  21. TrixC says:

    My friend tried nesting, they kept the family home where the kids stayed and rented a small apartment which they also took turns in. However the arrangement soon broke down because her ex is toxic and immature and couldn’t cope when my friend started seeing someone new. I think it would only work as a long term arrangement if the separation was very amicable.

  22. MsK says:

    Weighing in on nesting here. When I was going through my divorce, nesting was presented as the optimal living solution to support kids. But, as commenters have mentioned, it is only an option if you are wealthy enough to support at least two households (for most people, that would be a stretch). I recall GOOP doing this which seems about right in terms of income/resources.

  23. FHMom says:

    Steven Tyler and BeBe Buell did this. It was the first time I ever heard of it. A friend of mine tried it. Both she and her ex moved in with their own parents. It worked for a year or so until she got sick of living in her parents’ house. It really seems like a good solution, especially if you have a lot of money.

  24. Sshark_29 says:

    I worked with a nurse who did this. The kids stayed in the house and to begin with mom and dad shared a separate apartment for their off days. Eventually they each get their own separate space and when their last kid graduated they sold the house and used the proceeds for their kids college. I’ve always been so impressed with how they did that. Though they didn’t have this name, then to my knowledge its been 10 years ago.

  25. Lolagirl says:

    My ex and I did this for four years. We are very *not* rich. We had the home we were living and rented a studio apartment that we switched off using. Eventually we had other partners that we stayed with. It was very difficult to do from the perspective of trying to stay grounded in an already difficult time. I will never regret it, however, because that difficulty should have been on us as parents instead of on our two very young children.

  26. Kirsten says:

    On top of this being a thing that you could only do with REALLY good salaries, this would be impossible once you’d moved on and into a new live-in relationship (especially if a new partner also had children). There’d be no way that a whole new family would move in and out every other week.

  27. Sass says:

    My parents did this when I was 15. Brothers were 14 and 8. They’d switch off every two weeks. But I think it’s a highly temporary solution unless you are loaded. My parents couldn’t afford a second residence each that they’d only live in for two weeks. My dad stayed at an extended stay hotel and my mom couch surfed at a friend’s. My mom’s family had money but 1. She was not stable and they were not helpful and 2. They’re not usually helpful anyway. Finally mom said dad could have the house and she got herself an apartment. I ended up moving out when I was 16 and about 10 years ago my dad just…let the house go into foreclosure and someone else lives there now. Good riddance tbh. The house was a shitty tract house on a shitty street full of shitty people sandwiched between shitty apartment complexes and the house itself was full of shitty memories. One of the last times I was in it, I had a panic attack. I was already a mom of two by then. I wish it had burned down. (I am 38)

  28. Bread and Circuses says:

    I saw an interview a few years ago about a family who did this in a really clever way. The ex-husband was a builder, and the ex-wife approached him about making a house tailor-made for this, so the kids didn’t have to keep moving back and forth.

    It basically was two separate houses, with one hallway in common that contained the kids’ bedrooms. When it was Dad’s custody time, Mom locked the door at her end of the hallway. When it was Mom’s custody time, Dad locked his door at the end of the hallway.

    The kids had free run of the house of the parent whose custody week it was. If they wanted to talk to the “other” parent, then they had to go around to that parent’s front door and knock like the visitor they were. It allowed the parents to live their own single life when it wasn’t their custody time, and for the kids to keep their own rooms without having to shuttle belongings around every week.

    I would think re-sale of the house after the kids are grown could be a bit tricky, but there would definitely be divorced parents who would be interested.