Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Making a family bedroom

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Making a family bedroom == Hobo MamaWe've now been cosleeping for six and a half years. And by cosleeping, I'm referring specifically to bed sharing. Just before Mikko was born, we bought a king-size mattress and put it on the floor of the single bedroom in our apartment. Even in the hospital, he slept in my arms, and once he came home, he slept beside us — and still is.

When Alrik was born, we added him in. We experimented with putting a crib mattress on the side of the king, but mainly we just all piled onto the king — Alrik on the edge with a foam bumper, then me, then Mikko, then Sam, who sometimes ended up on the floor. (There were four in the bed, and the little one said….)

Lately, and even though one of us is just a little two-year-old squirt, we end up doing jigsaw arrangements every night. Sometimes there's a hard skull in my spine. Often my bum or my knees (depending on which way I've turned) is hanging over the edge. When I come to bed after the three boys are asleep, I sometimes end up settling down sideways at the foot, like the family dog. Sam recently had a dream he was trapped in a tunnel — and awoke to find himself unable to turn over because of two certain little boys who had hemmed him in. Now we've been considering a third child, which would mean five in a bed, and — nope. Not with our bodies and our sprawlers, not in a king, and the king mattress is the widest conventional mattress you can get (76"). (A California king is longer but narrower at 72", for those pondering your family-bed purchases.)

We love cosleeping and bed sharing, but we need to find a way that works better to let everyone sleep comfortably.

Since we now live in a two-bedroom, we figured the solution was simple enough: make over the second bedroom, which right now is kind of a catch-all room (aka The Crap Room), into the kids' bedroom, as has always been intended for whenever the kids wanted it. We bought an Ikea Kura loft bed and intended to place a full-size mattress underneath, perpendicularly. That way, there could be multiple configurations of bodies: one to two kids up top, one kid and an adult below, two kids below, possibly even two kids and an adult below, and the full could double as an extra guest mattress. We figured the three boys could all go to sleep in that room for awhile, with one or more coming back to join me in the big bed if they woke up.

But when we broached this idea to Mikko, it was met with resistance, and sadness — and I assure you, it was not one-sided sadness. I've never been one of those people who's been afraid my kids would never outgrow cosleeping — I've always known they would, same as breastfeeding, same as babywearing, same as wanting me to hug them in public. Kids grow, things change; I knew this would, too. But I wasn't raring to make it change now, right away, when they're both still so young.

Mikko loves the time when we're falling asleep and he can talk to Sam and me about his day and ask all his myriad questions. Both Mikko and Alrik love snuggling up against one of us — sometimes sprawled on top of us — and waking up to see us there. And, frankly, I love it, too!

Making a family bedroom == Hobo Mama

So we decided to move one more step up the ladder of hippie eccentricity and create … a family bedroom. Oh, I know, we already have one by default — but we're moving up that rung because now it will be intentional.

Sam has this idea to move the loft bed into our room. He's measured it out and discovered that if we turn the ladder to face one wall, but with enough clearance for the baseboard heaters and therefore for kids to shimmy by and climb up the back, that the width of our king mattress (76") will just fit underneath.

I also had the idea of extending the sleeping space down below by buying an extra-long twin mattress, which is the same length as a king (80"). We could maybe even combine the ideas by buying a regular twin mattress (75" long), putting it under the loft, and having the king be pushed next to it. Then it's sort of a loft over a super-duper king!

You know what this means, though, right? What with the unschooling and the long-term breastfeeding already marking us, it means we're officially becoming The Weirdest People in Our Family. Our parents already ask us (and the kids!) when the boys will be moving into their own room. Just imagine the looks on their faces when they visit and see one family sleeping room, and one play room in place of the kids' bedroom.

That bonus might be worth it in itself….

But what I'll really love is continuing the path of gentle nighttime parenting we started six and a half years ago. Yes, it's unconventional. Yes, it's culturally frowned upon (kids in a marriage bed! oh, noes!). But if it's working for us and our family, then there's no reason not to find ways for it to continue to work.

Making a family bedroom == Hobo Mama

I have to say, I'm excited about this cosleeping thing changing up a bit but staying the same for awhile longer!

Do you have a family bedroom, either by default or intentionally? What have you configured to make everyone sleep comfortably?

P.S. You might want to follow my kids' bedroom board on Pinterest if you're bunk bed–happy the way I am!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • 'The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.


Tara Borin said...

I love this post! We currently have a queen and a twin on the floor of our loft bedroom, to sleep two adults, a two year old and a 3 month old. I don't see that changing any time soon, and have often thought of turning it into a family bedroom!

Olivia said...

We have a family bedroom by default. I intentionally started bed-sharing when my first was born, but I didn't imagine she'd still be with us almost 5 yrs later. Now we have four of us in a king bed. We start our older one in her own bedroom, mostly so she isn't a distract to her brother while I nurse him to sleep, but she wakes and come to our bed within a couple of hours. I love sharing a bed with my whole family. It gives me such a feeling of peace to have everyone together. The only thing I don't like is not being able to sneak out of bed for a few minutes alone in the morning. The kids always wake up as soon as I move.

Meegs said...

Great post! We don't bedshare full-time, but I love the snuggles I get when we do. I'm glad you found what works for you!

Lori Petro, TEACH through Love said...

As I was reading, I was thinking "one sleeping room, and one play room" - sounds logical when you're working in small spaces. I nodded through most of this... I only have one but we lived in a one-bedroom house for the first five years and even in the subsequent two and three bedroom homes - my daughter's room is still not officially her sleeping-room. She goes back and forth - but I know she will be locking me out soon enough! Thanks for sharing so honestly what many think is "weird." :) - Lori @ TEACH through Love

TopHat said...

We have a family bedroom. We use a CalKing mattress on the floor, but we turn it so that the extra length become extra width. We also have a toddler bed next to the mattress for the 3 year old and a twin-sized loft bed above the CalKing mattress. The 3 year old often rolls out of his bed and into ours. The 5 year old is in the loft, but if she has a bad dream, she comes down to be with us. And the 1 year old is in bed with us. Where we live (SF Bay Area) we can't afford much bigger than the 1.5 bedroom we have, so we have a bedroom and a playroom (the small .5 bedroom). It works well for us. We once asked the 5 year old if she wanted her loft in the play room, but she didn't like the idea of being away from us.

Mother Goutte said...

We only have our youngest with us now but I love it when our son comes in in the morning. Out two oldest are in bunk beds but we often find them cuddled up in one bed :) I think sleeping together is quite natural to humans, isn't it? I live the idea of your parents' reaction as an added bonus!!

Luschka said...

What a fab idea! I always thought a floor bed with two single floor beds on either side is a brilliant idea. My husband is not so keen though, largely because he is a very light sleeper, and the girls already keep him awake half the night. And they're not even teens yet, har har har ;)

Inder-ific said...

So glad to know I'm not the only one sharing my bedroom with two kids! :-) We have the 18 month old in our Queen sized bed, and our 4.5 year old in a bed at the other side of the room. But he usually goes asleep in our bed, gets moved to his bed, and then sometimes finds his way BACK into our bed during the night. Lemme tell you, two adults and two kids on a queen sized mattress is ... cozy. Cozy like my back hurts like a mofo the next day.

I am ready for Joe to have his own bedroom, honestly, but he probably isn't. And I'd have to evict a housemate and lose out on some rent bc all of our bedrooms are occupied. The freaking Great Recession!

But Joe recently cracked me up when he said: "Mama, big beds are COMFY. Little beds are LUMPY." That's how he sees it!

Morgan Lipton, MA CCC-SLP said...

Two words: Mega Bed! It's a king and queen mattress side-by-side. When not so understanding folks visit (my father, ahem), we close the door. We love Mega Bed. We also have the Kura loft in the "other bedroom" and after enjoying it for play for a year and a half, our daughter initiated starting the night (snuggle and nurse to sleep) in the Kura and rejoining the fam later each night. The first few nights of my going to bed without her in Mega Bed were fraught with sadness for me, but we are adjusting and are simply thrilled to have followed her lead.

Douglas Blane said...

Lovely stuff. I like your description of "gentle nighttime parenting". Your kids look so secure and comfy. My boys cried a fair bit in the night when they were young, and often ended up in our bed. They would likely have felt safer and happier if they'd started out there, and had been able, as yours are, to fall asleep while chatting quietly to mum and dad.

Cassandra said...

Love this! Makes me feel more "normal".
I started co-sleeping with my now 2.5 yr old miss from day one. As she got bigger, she kicked her Daddy out of the bed and he now sleeps in our guest room that is detached from the house.
Its quite a large room and we have now added a single bed in the hopes that miss two will sleep there so that daddy can come back to cuddle Mummy. Lol.
Also have a 5 mth old who just moved up to the cot (which miss 2 wouldnt sleep in). The cot is in the bedroom too.
Theres not much left in the way of floor space! Lol
Ours is a two bedroom also. My 13 yr old daughter is in room two.
I know the noem these days is for each child to have their own room. But it wasnt always that way. My partners mother and sister shared a bed in the same room as their parents even at the age of 15. She grew up in Croatia and migrated to Australia in her 20s.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

psst - we sleep sideways on the CA King, so we get the benefit of the extra length ;)
We also have a twin on the floor next to us, but after Kieran slept on it one night, he has since shunned it. Except, of course, to jump on it. It makes an excellent landing pad for both of my monkeys.
And we've already surrendered to the fact that we have a family bedroom for the foreseeable future. We've installed a low bar in the closet for kids' clothes, rearranged all drawers so that we can fit all clothes in, etc. I love our family bedroom :)

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

We do the same! one king size and one single bed for Bo...it's comfy enough until now, so we might keep it for a while...

sustainablemum said...

Such a lovely, lovely post this is a real issue in my house at the moment. Our bedroom is small not really big enough for anything larger than a double which is is not bigger enough for more than two adults. Both our children have slept in with us until they were about two and then moved into a small toddler bed alongside ours. At four and half my eldest decided he wanted to sleep in his own room in the bed we had built, so he moved out. When my youngest was not quite four my dh decided that she needed to move out and sleep in her own bed he had built her, what this has actually meant is that I have moved out to and have been sleeping with her for the last nine months. Dh is now getting really bothered by the fact that I am no longer sleeping in with him, I had discussed with him at the time he moved our dd out that it could be a while....I have also suggested getting a bigger bed which we could just about fit in or putting a single mattress on the floor but he won't hear of it. I coslept with my parents and then my brothers until I was ten so I am really struggling with how to deal with this now.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Morgan Lipton, MA CCC-SLP: MEGA BED!! I wish we had room for that, truly. I sometimes have (literal) dreams of a bedroom where the floor's just one giant mattress. As it is, we can't fit more than a king+twin, but I'm hoping we try that out!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Douglas Blane: I admit, a lot of my nighttime choices come from my own memories of being so lonely at night — until I finally got a roommate in college! :)

Lauren Wayne said...

@Dionna @ Code Name: Mama: I wish turning a Cal King sideways would work for us, but it would be too short for my giant of a husband. ;) I do like the idea of a twin bed trampoline, though! Ha ha. We have 2/3 of the clothes in our room and Mikko's in the other. I think the other room will be a playroom/closet!

Lauren Wayne said...

@sustainablemum: That is really challenging! I've been glad that Sam and I have been on the same page, because it must be so tough when you and your partner have different expectations. It sounds like you've already suggested compromises, like moving her back in on a single mattress. Maybe you could do something where you start out in her room, then move back to yours but allow her to come into yours if she wakes up? I don't know — hope you figure out a way forward that works for all of you!

EarthMamasWorld said...

I am SO envious of your family bedroom! We have a king with a twin added on & I thought that was big, I think you have pointed me in a new direction. Thank you!

Tarana Khan said...

I love the idea of a family bunk bed! It was wonderful reading about your sleeping arrangements and I seriously don't understand why it should be frowned upon. Hoping to join in your carnival next time!

stoneageparent said...

Great to read all your experiences of bed sharing.

Our young children are our most vulnerable members of society. It seems somewhat crazy that as parents we go to such lengths to separate them from us, buying and using a myriad of plastic containers to achieve this. Why do we own so many containing devices? Are we afraid of letting our children in?

We too have embraced the fact our children what to be close to us at night. The only changes to our bedroom was to get a bigger mattress, to move the mattress on to the floor and when we became four we good a small mattress which is just next to the main mattress for our eldest. The children go to sleep in the main bed, and then when the last parent comes to bed we lift our eldest onto the mattress where he is still right next to us.

domesticmuslimahmama said...

this is great!!! i moved to a french island with my french husband, yet as a country american it is hard!! exxxxxxxxtreamly!!! what make is easier is being in one room; we do have two large rooms up stair but martinique is an island that loves loud music and doesnt care much for respect your neighbor.we have five children 14,1,6,3,1 and one on the way; glad to see its not just us who love the comfort of the family bedroom!

mom said...

We do the family bedroom, we all love it! Our daughter is 15, our son 10. Our 10 yr old will sometimes still crawl into bed and sleep with us. We homeschool/unschool as well. It's so nice to know we are not alone!

Unknown said...

We just shifted our situation over to an "intentional" family bedroom. Our 4 year old has a bed kitty corner to our queen size, but never sleeps in it - the 1 year old sometimes does...the first part of the night. 4YO's old room (where she never slept) is now a den/home office full of non-babysafe things, so the door can be shut, and the living room is now a fully childproofed playroom.

Unknown said...

Did the loft idea work for you? At the moment, we pulled our queen a little from the wall to "extend" it with shoe boxes and blankets so that our legs won't be hanging off (ghetto) lol! Hoping our to improve our sleep situation lol. We have my 2 month old daughter and our 2 year old son. Cosleeping and breastfeeding go hand in hand. We have wonderful sleep together so I wouldn't change it in any other way than to improve it!

Unknown said...

So glad to read this article and all your comments! We live in a great one bed apartment we would be so sad to leave...we started cosleeping with our son at 2 months and now at 26 months and with a second due next month we plan to add a toddler bed next to ours. We were talking about how long we could realistically stay here all in one bedroom without being 'too weird' and you've put my mind at rest! I think for those of us who do cosleep you realise how right it feels...i feel quite sorry for those families who don't ask fall asleep cuddling and wake up together!

RM F said...

Hi! I found your article when searching "family sleeping room," after my husband and I got the idea to try that only last night. I was wondering if anyone had blogged about it working for them, and was pleasantly surprised by your article and the comments that so many people are doing it! Our three girls are all still very young, and I think it will allow us to use the rooms in our small home more efficiently. It'll be a brave experiment, but I'm SO excited! :)

Lauren Wayne said...

@Jesse May Danson: So fun to hear from another person interested in this! Let us know how it works for your family. :)

Unknown said...

I just found this article as well with the same search. We have had a family bed since day one. As our family has grown we have just adapted, we are now in a king with a twin extra long beside it. We also have 3 young girls and a smallish house. We love the family time and it works well for us. The main thing with this being a successful arrangement is that everybody needs to be on board with the idea. We use one of our other bedrooms as a guest room as well as a place for my husband and and I to have "private time". Inevitably, when people find out you family bedshare the first thing they ask is how you manage your adult time. Which really is no ones business, yet it's asked again ad again.
It's always nice to be reminded that families have been bed sharing since the beginning of time, and in many other cultures around the world it is still the norm. IMHO, I don't feel like babies and children should be sent off to sleep alone when no other mammals send off their young to be alone... it doesn't seem natural. I sincerely hope the arrangement works as well for your family as it has for ours. Best wishes!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Unknown: Thanks so much for sharing! I agree on all your points!

Unknown said...

This is what we have!! We have a bed rail between the two to protect the little one (2yr) from the gap. Our son always slept better on his own, so naturally we moved his crib into a nursery when he was 1.5 to get him away from my husband's snoring! When I was told I had to have a c-section, I started to explore ideas, and learn more about co-sleeping. We attached a crib to our king, but she never slept in it. She was in my arms in the hospital bed, and continued to be snugly at home. I felt horrible with our son down the hall and our little new family of 3 all snuggled in tight so I invited our son to join us when my husband was on nights. A bad month of nightmares led to him cozying in full time and booting Daddy out - with his feet - every night. Bringing in our spare Queen was the ultimate solution. (Oh, and getting my husband a dental appliance that stops his snoring!).
Now we are all tucked in safely and happily together with oodles of space to spare. Although I'm still nursing at 2.5yrs I try to spend the night snuggling with my son. It has made a huge difference in our connection and I love having everyone together. We've talked about the kids sharing a room when our daughter weans... we do have a bedroom set up for our son, he just prefers to share ours... I'm on the fence... sometimes I feel like I could appreciate some uninterrupted sleep... but that day will come... and I know I'll be desperately sad when it does. Until then, we're all together until they decide otherwise. My only regret is that we didn't start this way. Thanks for posting!!!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Lara Jiménez: That is so great! I love your setup and that it's working so well for you all right now. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

I was just perusing the internet to look for family bed planning tips, and stumbled upon this! Thanks for sharing your experience! Also--my kiddo is named Mikko as well. Quite a coincidence outside of Finland! 😄

C.R. said...

How do you find time for intimacy while all sleeping in the same bed? We cosleep with our infant and lately the 3 year old joins us. It has destroyed intimacy. I love all the cuddles and having us all together but I miss using our bed for more than sleep .

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