Our bedroom is truly our sanctuary in the home. Every other space has some type of function, often a hectic and noisy one. The living room hosts nightly TV viewing, the kitchen entertains the racket of pots and pans, and the dining room is the site of lively conversation. At day’s end, with all these things completed, we love to retreat to the calm and quiet of the bedroom.
For more and more families, that retreat takes place together, at least in the years when are children are still quite young. Rather than the nighttime hours seeing everyone go their separate ways, these families retire to The Family Bed for a restful night. It only makes sense, really; you’ve gotten enjoyment out of your waking hours together, so why not spend your sleeping time together too? Oh and this means you won’t be getting up multiple times a night to see to crying, bad dreams, or water requests. Everyone tends to sleep more. Yay!
Of course, this type of arrangement isn’t what is normally incorporated into home design. Most houses are built with three or four bedrooms that are fully separated, and most kids that start out in a family bed do eventually move to their own space.
So regardless of whether or not you use a family bed, your home will probably not be designed quite the right way for one, and it will be up to you to figure out a way to make it work. Keep these points in mind as you work on making the transition to a family bed—or to making it more comfortable.
Many families start to share a bed with a new baby. Once your little one is big enough to move out of the bassinet, you may choose to snuggle him or her between Mommy and Daddy (and maybe with older siblings). But the bed isn’t the only thing a baby needs.
Keeping those midnight things handy for babies is essential. You want to avoid having a nursery where everything but sleeping takes place. Incorporate a changing pad on a dresser, stocked with cloth diapers and wipes, as well as a diaper bin. Bring in a comfortable chair for storytime.
Older kids have needs as well. Consider a headboard with storage where cords can be stowed to let devices charge safely away from bedding. If a little TV time is allowed before bed, get a flat screen and mount it high on the wall to save floor space.
Speaking of saving space, this will be a vital skill if you purchase an oversized bed! Its headboard will consume a lot of the wall space that would normally be available for furniture, so think about ways to maximize efficiency. Find storage containers to fit under the bed; a big bed can cover a lot of stored garments, so create a system and use it.
Another important idea is to make the room feel like it belongs to everyone. If the kids feel like they are just hanging around in their parents’ room, they won’t feel as much at home. Come up with ways to create rooms within the room for each part of the family. Many teachers do this with “centers”, where they have a reading area, a science area, and so forth. When you have somewhere in the room that feels like it’s exclusively theirs, they’ll embrace the arrangement.
Designing a room is always difficult, and it’s compounded when it has to be functional and comfortable for family members of many different ages. If you’ve decided to go with a co-sleeping arrangement, don’t stop your plans with the bed. Make sure you incorporate everyone’s needs into the complete room so that it can be that refuge that everyone wants and needs at the end of a long, hard day.