Other animal-inspired alternatives to bird nesting for divorced parents

Kimberly Harrington
4 min readSep 21, 2021

Birds can’t have all the good ideas, can they?

Original illustration by Emily Flake

Some divorced parents practice a living arrangement called “bird nesting.” Instead of shuffling kids back and forth between two homes, the kids stay put and the parents cycle in and out. But birds can’t have all the good ideas, can they?

HOLLOW TREEING
This arrangement works for parents who want to keep their children in a home someone else built and abandoned and therefore feel under no obligation to maintain. Hollow Treeing is also ideal for parents who love the nightlife, look like bandits, and often get compliments on their surprisingly human-like hands. If your kids like eating garbage and being abandoned by their dads, this one’s for you.

STABLING
Quit stalling and consider stabling! Stabling is perfect for parents who prefer enclosed separate spaces with the option to eat out of a bucket and kick doors, and for kids who live for carrots, apples, jumping over things, and pitchforks. Stabling is particularly well suited to families who love to fit their exercise into an oval shape.

DAMMING
In this arrangement, the parents diligently build multiple houses under the assumption they’re being helpful when sometimes they’re just creating problems downstream.

FISHBOWLING
In this approach dating back to the 1970s, you’ll be living your lives out in full view of your community. Each member of the family will be provided with a fluorescent rock or wavy plant to distract from this complete lack of privacy. Sometimes the constant scrutiny of one’s personal life can make it feel as though you’re not getting quite enough oxygen but don’t worry, you’ll forget what’s happening pretty much as soon as it happens.

SPIDERWEBBING
Spiderwebbing, while appearing incredibly fragile, is actually a surprisingly strong arrangement. The father — if he can honestly even be called that — is typically long gone. The mother eight-handedly ensures her children are in a safe and secure place to grow and develop, sometimes all on their own. While she’s of course busy keeping all her eyes out for shoes, books, and newspapers, she primarily spends her time eating and playing real-life “fuck, marry, kill” with potential suitors.

HUTCHING
Hutching is best suited to parents who, although separated, inexplicably still plan to reproduce at an alarming rate. Maybe rabbits don’t have any good ideas after all.

CAVING
Does a bear get a divorce in the woods? In this model, everyone in the family ingests a truly staggering amount of carbs then falls into a deep non-reactive slumber for half the year. Although it’s true that the word “caving” can have a negative connotation of “giving in,” it’s best to think of this arrangement as an unbeatable combo of giving up for six months followed by a Rumspringa of destroying bird feeders.

ANT HILLING
If icebergs could get a divorce, they’d go with ant hilling, a post-divorce family approach where what you see is just the tip. Underneath the surface, arrangements are exceedingly complex but surprisingly harmonious. Separate rooms allow plenty of space for everyone to sleep, eat, and carry fifty times their body weight. When this model fails, it’s usually due to the parents putting all the dirt they dug up on each other out on their front lawn.

BEEHIVING
Is it a divorce or is it just Plan Bee? This refreshingly matriarchal arrangement completely revolves around the needs of the mother, the queen. Finally. Her role is to reproduce and be served. How everyone in the house stays fed, cared for, and alive? Really not her problem. Once she mates with the male, he dies, leaving no one to compromise with. She has an extensive staff to take care of every detail of her home, family, and life. Experts agree that referring to this as “an arrangement” misses the point entirely and instead prefer the term “perfection.”

KENNELING
Parents of purebreds with glossy hair bypass negotiations over living arrangements entirely by shipping them off to boarding school.

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Kimberly Harrington

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