I LOVE co-sleeping! There is nothing like a big bed full of people all snuggled together . . . so cozy!! It took me about 6mo to get used to it after Xian was born. I never slept with anyone as a kid, not until I got married did I share a bed. Even as a kid, the short time I shared a room with my sister we had bunk beds. In high school I slept sideways on my bed, I loved to spread out. But it didn't take long to get used sharing my space with others. Charlie seems to enjoy co-sleeping too (he isn't much of a talker but has never complained and occasionally when he doesn't know I'm looking I'll see him looking at a sleeping baby next to him in the bed with a smile on his face).
Yes, we get kicked in the head often (several of the kids are VERY wiggly) and yes I often have a kid lying on top of me at any point in the night. Sometimes you wake to find that someone has flipped completely around and their feet are in your face, LOL! but you get used to it.
When Xian was born we had a co-sleeper. I never used it. Well I did use it to hold my water and diapers, but he slept next to me. Depending on what side I needed to nurse him on, he would either be next to the co-sleeper or between Charlie and I (I would just move him at night as needed). We had a queen size bed then and it was big enough.
Then when Piper came along Xian took his place between Charlie and I and Piper was on the end. We bought a king sized bed shortly before she was born, and we put mattress and box springs on the floor. I always either have the mattress pushed up next to the wall (with a rolled up towel in the crack) or I have something beside the bed at bed level, so that I don't have to worry about baby falling off. Another reason why I like to have a barrier there is so that I can put baby closer to the edge of the bed, to make more room in the bed for everyone. I learned to nurse on both sides without moving baby, if needed (all my toddlers, were/are also nursing so I didn't always need to nurse the baby on both sides at night because the older kid would nurse in the morning upon waking anyway)
When Arah came along we built a frame next to the bed that would hold a crib mattress and make it flush with the bed so that it was level, like an extension of the bed. Xian moved over there, on the other side of Charlie, Piper moved to the middle between us, and Arah was on the end. Are you picking up a pattern here? LOL!! Everyone rotates when a new baby comes (usually I move them a month or so before the baby comes, so they get used to their new spot).
So when Ever was born we replaced the crib mattress with a twin mattress and pushed up flush with our king sized bed. Xian moved to the end of the bed, Piper moved to between Charlie and Xian, then Arah was in the middle and Ever on the other side of me. Piper and Xian were both on the twin bed, though Piper usually ended up on top of Charlie (she really likes to cuddle).
I was not sure if we would all fit when Thrace came along, but we do! Xian is on the end, Piper is in the middle and Arah is next to Charlie (usually he is like in the crack between the twin mattress and the king, and he also likes to cuddle). Ever is between me and Charlie and Thrace on the other side of me. I had pictures of everyone asleep in the bed, except me, so I had my mother in law take some pictures of all of us shortly after Thrace was born.
Thrace is on the left, then me, Ever, Charlie, Arah, Piper, Xian
This works great for us. We are all used to lying close to each other and the kids think nothing of it. They are also used to random noises at night (like a baby crying) or Charlie getting up earlier or whatever and typically they sleep right through it (though Xian will often get up earlier if Charlie does, they all don't) or if they wake they promptly go back to sleep no problem.
There is really nothing sweeter than crawling into a bed full of sleeping kids. Sometimes I walk in and see them sleeping with their arms around each other. Right now I am sitting in bed typing this with them all asleep around me (Xian just mumbled something . . . he is always talking in his sleep, and Piper rolled over and cuddled up with Arah).
I know it may seem inconvenient. It has been years since I have been able to cuddle with Charlie. But the way I look at it . . . the kids are only small for a short time. They only need us like this for a short time. They grow up and move on so quickly and considering how busy the day can get, it is nice to spend every minute with them, even if it is the middle of the night. And frankly it doesn't get any more peaceful than this with everyone in 1 room, LOL!! Plus if they need anything, if they wake from a bad dream, if they are feeling sick (like Piper just a while ago woke to tell me she had a stuffy nose, then she promptly went back to sleep . . . I think she is catching my cold) then we are right there. I remember a handful of times crawling into bed with my parents at night after a bad dream. I never felt so safe! I love the security it provides them while they are little and need us. I love how it brings us close together. I will enjoy being able to stretch out in the bed again some day, not being woken multiple times at night, being able to cuddle with an adult again. But for now I am loving this stage of life with little ones in the bed and I am trying to cherish it as long as it lasts. Besides, after the kids are grown Charlie and I have the rest of our lives to spread out in this big bed.
OK to recap . . . how we make it work . . .
- We have a King size bed, the mattress sits on the boxsprings on the floor.
- We have a twin size mattress built up to sit flush with our king size mattress, for 1 big bed
- The baby always sleeps next to me on the end of the bed
- I always have the bed next to the wall (with a rolled up towel in the crack) or have some type of barrier next to them so that they can lie next to the end of the bed, so we don't waste any space
- The next to youngest sleeps between Charlie and I
- The 3rd youngest sleeps on the other side of Charlie
- We progress up from there so that the oldest is on the other end of the bed
- Considering they are all around 2 yrs apart, each kid gets approx 4 yrs sleeping next to me (from newborn to age 4) and 4 yrs next to Charlie (from age 2-6) and 2 yrs sleeping between the 2 of us . . . wouldn't you have loved that as a kid!!