We never set out to ascribe to the "family bed" philosophy. I just found it easier, especially when nursing a newborn, to let the little one sleep next to me after they woke up in the middle of the night. That way, my sleep was barely interrupted and I got more of it. That works great with one newborn. Unfortunately, it's a tough habit to break when that newborn becomes a toddler and needs to get evicted to make room for the next newborn.
We did, eventually, get the kids into their own beds (for the most part). We did it by buying them two sets of bunk beds. We positioned them in an 'L' shape when the kids all shared a room. They loved having a boys' bunk and a girls' bunk to hang out in. The kids were happy to stay in the bunks at night because they had each other.
Then, we made the mistake of doing major construction to give everyone more space. We gutted half of the house to renovate all of the bedrooms. Now there is a girls' room and a boys' room. Who knew the girls would be terrified of sleeping in their new room? So, after a week of living in a hotel and major construction at the house, we are the proud owners of a very expensive playroom. The girls spend every night sharing the boys' bunk bed with them. I guess they just like being near someone when they sleep.
Which is why we still get our fair share of nighttime visitors. Call it lazy parenting, but I find it so much easier to mumble, "Sure. Get in," and go back to sleep when there is someone next to my bed at 2 am whispering about whatever reason they can't possibly go back to sleep in their own bed. I just don't have the wherewithal to get out of bed and walk that child back to their room and tuck them in all over again.
Not surprisingly, with this many children, there's almost always one who wakes up. So, we pay the price for our laziness in lack of mattress real estate. As crazy as it may seem, I know these years are short-lived in the long run. It's already a rarity for the older kids to wake up scared and need our comforting. And, I'm working on the assumption that they will have grown out of this habit by the time they're ready for
So, I occasionally wake up with what feels like 47 kids in my bed. It's a little nuts. But I enjoy it because I know a day will come, in the not too distant future, when PJ and I are sprawled across our king-sized mattress and it seems a little too roomy.