I very much feel that everyone should sleep where everyone sleeps best, and for the most part, it's worked pretty well over the last 13 1/2 years. I suppose I should even include the nearly three years before that, as it was something of a shock to me to realize that German couples have separate blankets (duvets, or quilts, one for each--I don't mean American bedding, with a top sheet and a blanket on top of that, which I never liked), and something of a shock to my husband to realize that American couples don't. This Germerican (as Marie calls our family) compromised: we have one double-wide duvet. :-)
When Marie was born I never even considered having her sleep anywhere except with us, which did make my husband a bit nervous at first, but he quickly realized the advantage of never having to get up in the night. We moved her into her own bed when she was 19 months old, which was much more traumatic for me than for her. It was more work for my husband, though, as she very quickly adjusted to calling "Papa!" in the night.
Jacob moved himself out when he was almost two and a half, thrilled to find out he had his own bed and was "allowed" to sleep there in the night. He never looked back--Marie was still often coming into our bed in the early morning long after Jacob almost never did.
Lukas was a bit more challenging. He was fine with being in his bed if Papa was there too, and I know Jörn spent many more nights going back and forth than I was ever aware of, not to mention the number of mornings I woke up wondering where Jörn was, and finding him asleep in Lukas's bed. Child in our bed was always my responsibility, Child in his/her own bed was always Jörn's.
With the first three, the bed into which they moved had been our old bed, 120 centimeters wide, which we'd replaced with a 180-cm bed when I was pregnant with Marie. It was very comfortable and certainly more than big enoughfor a child and a Papa.
Then when Katie was about a year and a half old, we rearranged the rooms to give the boys one room and the girls another, but to make the "office" (computer desk and cupboards) and our bedroom fit in the same room, we took back our original 120-cm bed and built a "baby balcony": a bed-frame for a baby mattress which fit snugly between the wall and our bed. That worked very well, but when it was time to move Katie out, there wasn't a bed available to move her into, since we were sleeping in it, and the toddler bed wasn't the most practical thing for Jörn to lie down with her. We ended up giving away the toddler bed and replacing it with a single mattress on the floor under Marie's bed (a loft bed), which worked, and then better yet, Katie started requesting that Marie cuddle her, and Marie was happy to do so! All of us slept very well for quite awhile.
When we moved to Cyprus, we brought our 120-cm bed and the baby balcony, as well as Lukas's bed, but sold the others. We were going to get a double bed for Marie and Katie (Marie's suggestion), then went one better and got a bunk bed, with the bottom bunk being a double bed (140 centimeters wide--wider than ours!) and the top a single, the idea being that eventually it would hold Marie, Katie, and Helen. We only got a mattress for the bottom bunk, though, the idea being that we'd get a mattress for the top (for Marie) when it was time to move Helen. As it turned out, we were given a single mattress within a month or two of getting the bed, so Marie has slept on the top ever since--and Katie slept most nights on the top bunk as well, until about five months ago, leaving the bottom bunk, the largest bed in the house, completely empty.
Before Elisabeth was born, we did try half-heartedly to move Helen into the girls' room, but there were two problems. One was that the mattress was horribly uncomfortable for Jörn and when he tried to lie down to cuddle Helen, his hips hurt him for the next couple of days. And the other was that Helen absolutely, definitely, did NOT want to move, no way, under no circumstances.
While I didn't mind, in theory, having her still in our bed, what I knew I couldn't handle was two nursing babies in my bed all night, and if she was next to me, there was no way she was going to quietly accept not nursing. Not to mention that it was going to be a little crowded. So four days before Elisabeth was born, I built a second "baby balcony", on the other side. Helen quickly accepted that as her bed, and from my point of view, this has worked just fine for the last nine months...but it hasn't been so great for Jörn. Helen is NOT a calm sleeper (the others all were, for the most part), and she pretty much wants to be cuddled by Jörn all night long. I still am convinced that everyone should sleep where everyone sleeps best, and Jörn has not been sleeping well at all.
A month or so ago a friend of ours insisted that she was going to buy us a new mattress for the girls' double bed, and she kept bringing it up again and again. So finally, we went and got the new mattress yesterday, and after over 24 hours of airing, put it on the bed today. (It still smells a bit, though.) It is SO comfortable! It's kind of tempting to kick the girls out and take over the bed ourselves. Our mattress is actually very comfortable too (we got a new one just three years ago), but I'm more often than not half lying on Elisabeth's mattress, or rather, on the wood between the two mattresses...
Next, I thought, would come the challenge of convincing Helen that she should sleep with Katie. We hadn't talked about it with her at all yet, and as my husband was out this evening (he just got home in the middle of that last sentence), I figured that we wouldn't even try it until tomorrow. Also, we had cell group here tonight, so the regular bedtime routine didn't happen at all and the children all went to bed late. But when I told Helen it was time for bed, she went scampering down the hallway and I heard her yell at Katie, "Get out! This MY room!" Oops! She did quickly understand when I said that the new bed is Katie's AND Helen's and thought it was cool that they each have their own blanket and pillow, and acted like she couldn't wait to go to bed.
However...after being put to bed by me, by Sue (here for cell group), by Marie, and by me again, I finally decided to wait until Jörn got home. When I started writing this (sitting on the couch, with Helen leaning against me, quietly, but awake), I had no idea how I would end it. But when Jörn walked in, Helen immediately put her arms out to him and said, "Lie down with me, my bed, my room," and went off down the hallway to the girls' room.
Oh wow--and Jörn just came out, and Helen is asleep. That was not even five minutes. Now to see how long she stays there...
Elisabeth, by the way, has started asking to go to bed at night. She doesn't want to go to sleep in the living room or in the sling--she wants to go to sleep in bed. (Well, she happily accepted a beanbag in a dark room at Sue's and Richard's house Wednesday evening.) She's been happily asleep in her bed (the baby balcony on my side) for the last hour and a half or so.