In a comment to my last post Sara asked about how I am schooling the children and keeping up.
First I have to say, "By the grace of God"! Other than that I can only tell what works for our family and what I've learned over the years.
First of all, on up to a certain age the children need that one on one time to be instructed. For a while I struggled on how to keep toddlers and babies occupied in order to get that accomplished.
It's easier when you are teaching only one or two as you can schedule instruction time during the littles' nap time. But for some, there are many to instruct and the children do get older. So school time will take up more time than nap time.
What I do is while I am schooling the two youngest school children (ages 4 and 6), our oldest daughter(14) and oldest son (11 this month) plays with the toddler/baby. This takes about and hour. It is very important to have that quiet time while instructing school and not have "toddler distractions". Same thing goes for when I am instructing the 9 and 11yos. At that time the 4 and 6 yos are playing with our toddler, who will be 2 this month. When I am not doing one on one or two instruction then the toddler can sit quietly in the room and play with a quiet toy or color. I will hold her and snuggle or whisper a story to her. I am still in the room so the school children can get my attention at a moment's notice. As far as helping the oldest, she moreso does not need as much instruction now and so I more or less just answer questions as they arise in her studies. I also check and grade her work and then have a quick session of any problems she may be having.
Now, there's that stage where we have a newborn or a baby who isn't quite old enough to go and play with the younger children. Usually newborns sleep a lot and then only need to be fed, changed and held. I have been known to feed, change and hold the babies while instructing at the same time. It all works out!
Our whole school day runs from 9:15 to 5:00 with a 2 1/2 hour break in between. This middle of the day break is used for preparing and eating lunch and a time to nap and/ or have quiet. This is also a time when the 14 yo will do a bit of catching up on schoolwork that took longer than intended. This gives me a second wind to tackle the second part of the day in a renewed state.
We do all major chores before and after school. So, we have a quick tidy and get a major chore done before school and then in the evening we do the same. I do a lot of delegating with the chores. I have the 4 and 6 yos that can unload the DW and three olders that can load. I do a lot of loading and unloading myself as well and I do most of the washing of the bigger pots and pans. Sometimes the 14yo helps with cooking or washing a few dishes. I also delegate the three oldest to move the wash from the washer to the dryer( which are in two different parts of the house right now) as the baskets of wet clothes are heavy right now. Many people cause much work but we have many hands to handle the work too!
In the mornings I have the 4, 6, 9 and 11yos to do room cleanup, bathroom check and play areas check. Of course, they won't have things to an adult standard but we are working on it! The 14 year old will do a room tidy( as much as she can in her current bedroom/ storage) and a quick livingroom cleanup. I am usually loading the washer, getting the dishwasher loaded and overseeing the children's work. I have inspection time each day to check how everyone's doing. I also switch the wash around during the day.
In the evenings, after school is when the children load and unload the dishwasher, wipe the table, sweep the floors and do a quick school room pickup. Again, the livingroom is tidied as well. I do most of the cooking and laundry folding, with help from the 14 year old. A lot of times I will have a little helper in the kitchen. Patience IS a virtue. I also do or delegate just what I see needing to be done! I always need to keep a mental note of which children have done enough and which children can do something else, fairly. Sometimes I write a list the night before but then again, it's added to during the day. For instance the night before the front door might not have needed to be swiped with glass cleaner but the next day it suddenly does due to toddler's hands. And not to even mention the thousands of emergency messes that arise from children's mischief, carelessness....or just being children!