Sara homeschools in the Pacific Northwest and says that having a routine frees up her energy to focus more on the needs of people around her. I've been inspired to revisit quiet time and meal planning based her kids' appreciation of "knowing what comes next" (their words). From Sara:
"Long ago I realized that we were more of a "late" family than an early one... During the school year the little kids (10, 8, 7, 5, 2) wake around 8 am (the 1 yo gets up between 8:30 and 9 am). If they get up earlier (usually not by much) they stay in their room reading/playing quietly until 8 am. During the summer they get up around 8 am as well, though sometimes they'll sleep in as late as 9 am.
Big kids (16, 15, 13, 12) get up between 7 and 8 am during the school year (two are early risers, two aren't). They can work on school work quietly or read. Sometimes the big kid assigned to make breakfast will start breakfast prep. During the summer they sometimes sleep in until 9 am, or sometimes get up as early as 6 am (for the couple that caddy at the golf course). They are all supposed to make their beds, get dressed and toss their dirty laundry in the hamper before coming down (except for the 2 yo and 1 yo; I get them ready after I come down). Rooms should look decent.
I usually wake around 7:45 or 8 am, get ready for the day and come down between 8:30 and 9 am. It helps me a lot to have some quiet and alone time before going downstairs. Oftentimes I'll find 5 or 6 kids on the couches reading in the morning, or if it's nice out they might go outside. We try to keep it quiet-ish until breakfast.
We don't have a set time to school starting. Everyone's lessons are laid out the day before so they know what they can start on and about half of them do start before breakfast. Otherwise we have breakfast around 8:30 or 8:45 am. Kids work individually and they start as soon as they finish eating (usually everyone is working by 9:30 am).
I've found that I have some children who are distracted by things and others who are distracted by people and that helps me decide where to have them do their school work. Usually there are 3 at the dining room table, 2 upstairs in different bedrooms, 1 in the kitchen at the island and 1 in the family room at a small table. I am usually in the kitchen and call kids in to me as I am ready to do certain subjects with them, as well as answer questions from anyone who has them.
I try to do school with the little kids first (bigger kids start with independent work) and then I help the big kids as the morning moves on and into the afternoon. Generally speaking, I ask everyone to start with math and then after that I let them decide what to work on next (unless they struggle with that OR I need them to do something with me or a sibling). I keep the daily schedule and as kids finish school work they come and let me know and I check it off the list (we have an incentive system based on checking things off the list). Their "big" chore (it usually doesn't take longer than 5 min) is also listed on the schedule with their school work and they do that when they want to (all things need to be completed by 4 pm to count towards the incentive). We use magazine folders to store school books and everything is in one place."