Since moving out of our rental house two years ago, Austin and I have not had the luxury of having our own bedroom. In the bus and in our current home, our bed has been in the main living area. This arrangement was fine in the bus, the kids had their own room and we had the space in the front.
It was fine when we moved into our space here too, but recently we began to feel like it wasn't the best use of space. We were getting tired of sleeping 5 feet away from the kitchen and our bed was taking up a huge portion of our living space. The kids also weren't utilizing the space in their room. Because we heat with a woodstove and keep their bedroom door closed, it's usually very cold in their room and the small open space they had for playing with their toys was always cluttered and messy, so they ended up playing in the living space, leaving the bedroom space useless.
We decided to move both of our beds into the bedroom. We contemplated a few different arrangements: a bed for us and bunks for the kids, a pull out bed for the kids, two toddler beds and a bed for us, etc. Eventually we decided to use what we already had and put our king mattress and their full mattress together to make one giant bed. We ditched the bed frames and just have the mattresses on box springs to keep them lower to the floor. This not only takes care of all the clutter that collects under the bed, but I feel like it's safer for the kids.
After looking at a few different "family bed" pictures, I knew I wanted our bed to look like one cohesive bed, even though it really is two. Each bed has its own bedding underneath, but by using two identical comforters and coordinating pillows, it looks like it's one bed! It worked out perfectly in this room, there's about 6" of space between the wall and the bed, which is where the kids store their blankies and special stuffies. It's a good compromise, they're still in the room, but not cluttering up the bed.
It's been really, really nice. I'll be honest, we're not huge co-sleepers and the thought of a "family bed" has never appealed to me. But Felix sleeps most of the night in our bed anyway, and Abram has been having bad dreams and usually ends up in our bed by morning. The switch to a family bed has actually given me more space in bed. Felix sleeps against the wall, where there's a space without any blankets or pillows. I can roll over and nurse him at night and then roll back over to my own space. The kids rarely make their way over to our bed, and when Abram does wake up at night, it's enough for him to know we're close by.
The kids go to bed on their own at around 7pm and fall asleep independently. Felix starts the night in his crib and usually wakes up for the first time when I head for bed at around 10:30pm, and then I take him to bed with us.
I have to admit, one my favorite times of the day is that first wake up of his, the kids are sound asleep, Austin stokes the fire one last time to keep it warm during the night and we all crawl in the warm, cozy bed together. I love knowing we're all there together, safe, warm and comfortable.
I can't say we'll continue this arrangement if/when we get a larger home, we dream of having our own room again someday, but it really is perfect for us right now. Moving our bed into the bedroom gave us all more living space and there's no longer wasted space in the bedroom. besides the bed, the only thing in the room is the kids' dresser, wedged at the foot of the bed. I feel like we've all been sleeping better, and that's worth a lot to me.
Felix has been napping better as well, now that I can nurse him to sleep in the big bed and then feel comfortable leaving him (in our old bed I worried about him waking up and crawling off the edge) and closing the door, so he has a quiet place to sleep. I often end up sitting beside him while he naps, enjoying the quiet time myself. The kids read, draw or play quietly during this time.
And to the many, MANY people who have expressed concern over our ability to enjoy "adult time", never fear! Turns out, it is possible to participate in such activities outside of the bedroom!