Hang in there! You just need to find your groove.
This is my 3rd year homeschooling and I have 5th, 3rd and Kindergarten, plus a baby. One thing I have learned, especially with having a baby in the middle of the school year is that we need to be flexible and I have to let go of my idea of perfection. This perspective makes it a little easier when baby refuses to nap so now I have to wrangle a baby and try to teach 3 different kids.
We combine a number of subjects for the older 2 using My Father’s World, but I schedule out my own curriculum choices for language arts and math. Part of the reason we homeschool is because my oldest has some special needs that impact her attention, organization and ability to follow multiple step directions. Because of that, I had always given her each assignment one at a time, opening the book to the right page and reading the directions and I did the same for her sister and then did preschool activities one on one. Well when I had the baby, if I needed to change a diaper or put baby down for a nap or something, my older kids would maybe finish their task if I was lucky and then sit there getting bored. We would lose all momentum, productivity and any good attitude the oldest had for the day. It just wasn’t working. My oldest asked for more independence when we talked about what she didn’t like about school.
This year, I made a dry erase checklist for each student. Before the week begins, I write in the assignments each needs to complete in their individual subjects for each day. Some of those subjects require some assistance from me (like All About Spelling) and some rarely do (like A Reason For Handwriting and Easy Grammar). We do school 4 days a week on weeks we have Coop or a field trip, I told my kids that I expect them to be able to finish all the work on their checklist but they are responsible for getting it done, so if for some reason they can’t or decide not to finish all of the work by Friday they can finish their checklist Friday after Coop or the field trip or even over the weekend, but it had to be done by Monday. After 6 weeks of school I have yet to have anyone not complete their assignments by Friday. In fact, I have even sent the kids downstairs to start the school day without me if I needed to shower while the baby takes her morning nap. The Kindergartener also gets a checklist and she has some subjects that she can do by herself on some days too or big sisters can help her read directions, although her stuff doesn’t take her long and I usually give her my attention while the older girls are working independently (I don’t send them down to start alone every day just when I need to). It has been very freeing for all of us. I wish I would’ve done this sooner, I didn’t think my oldest could handle the responsibility, but she has actually done much better than I expected and I don’t have to nag or fight about each assignment, it is simply on the list and she doesn’t argue with the list. If she isn’t working diligently I can give a gentle reminder how everyone else will be relaxing Friday afternoon while she’s completing school work, but I’ve only had to do that maybe twice. In fact, because they get free time if they finish before we are ready for group subjects or I am ready to teach them one on one, they usually work very hard to finish as fast as they can (although they know they will have to fix mistakes which will take more time so they don’t rush too much). It is such a simple idea that so many wise homeschool moms use (some also do workboxes but I don’t have the space or budget for those), I just didn’t believe it would work well enough for my kids to be worth the extra time investment, but I am so glad I was wrong!
This specific strategy might not help you, you might already be doing something similar or even better, but the point is I listened to my kids perspective on how they thought we could make school better, thought about our family situation and what we needed to change to be more successful at school, sought out tried and true strategies from other homeschools and prayerfully found an adaptation that fit our family. I tweaked the specific checklist from a generic one I had found to simplify what I needed to write on there each time after a couple of weeks to make it more clear and easier to fill out. If things aren’t working for you, keep trying and tweaking until you find your groove and then go with that until it isn’t working and look for ways to make it work for your new situation. That is the joy and challenge of homeschool, you get to find what works for you but there are infinite possibilities.