"How do you divide your time between multiple children?"
I don't feel fully qualified to answer this as I am still a new mom to 4 children [oldest only being 6]. I have a helpful husband who is available in most seasons for the kids and I after work. I also have a babysitter come 3 days a week for 5 hours each to help me with things I don't get to [chores] or helping with a few kids while I homeschool our oldest one. We decided this was a lesser expensive option compared to private school for older ones and day care for younger ones. Although precious, the little ones can be distracting for older brother while doing his school work so a few hours a week we are guaranteed uninterrupted time. Also, I would rather be in the house with the kids and know exactly who is with and what the kids are up to. I know this isn't an option for everyone, but I am truly grateful for the opportunity to stay at home with my kids and have help in this season with so many little ones.
I say all this to say---please don't think I do this all alone. These people make it possible for me to spend so much one on one time with my children. However, even if your husband works a lot, or you don't have any outside the home help...there is still some ways to share mommy evenly.
TWO BIRDS ONE STONE
Probably my best piece of advice for spending a lot of one-on-one time with each of your children everyday is to invite the children into whatever you're doing. If I'm making pancakes, I will let one child help me. If I'm doing laundry I'll let another child help me. If I'm running an errand I'll take just one child with me. You get the point. Basically, as moms, we have a lot of daily chores and things to attend to, and if we try to do all of them alone and spend lots of quality time with each child too---we will go mad. There just isn't enough time in a day for that. You have to learn how to be intentional about letting your children work beside you.
KID DATE NIGHTS
I probably first heard about this from Martin Mommy [my bestie] . It is just what it sounds likes---you take one of your children out for "date", just you and them. They get to talk to you as much as they want about whatever they want without having to compete with any other children. I remember I once took my [seemingly] quiet middle child out one night and he literally didn't stop talking. He would comment on everything he saw and thought. It was cracking me up. Obviously he'd been storing it up since he normally is beat to the chase by his two very vocal brothers. It can be fancy or simple. It can be for a half hour or a whole day. Just do it. Your children will really enjoy the quality one-on-one time with just their mom.
Sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed how quickly we forget. Be intentional to pay attention to the amount of quality time you spend with each child. Even ask them. "Do you feel like mommy spends more time with X than you?" Etc. Especially the children who are less maintenance and keep to themselves more. It's easy for me to neglect Solomon because he's completely happy to play alone and he never gets into anything. However, he's just as precious as his more high-maintenance-risk-taking-brothers, so I have to be intentional to say---even though you'd spend all day playing wii upstairs while I homeschool your brother and take care of the house, please come down here and sit in my lap while I read to your brother. Or I will let the other boys go play outside and hold him back for a bit to play or read for a few minutes before he joins them. I have to make a point to notice and keep things "fair" and share my time equally with him even though he doesn't demand it with bad behavior and getting into things.
THINGS AREN'T WHAT THEY WERE
Things will never be the way they were. You don't have one kid anymore, or just two, or just three. You have what you have now and although you are spread a little thinner, your love will be supernaturally multiplied if you call on Him for more! Let your mind be present, grateful and full of confidence in His ability to help you spread your time and love around evenly. God thinks family is a great idea. He loves siblings! There is a way, specific to your family, for mommy to be shared. Ask God for wisdom.
There are just seasons where you need to turn the TV on, break out the granola bars, and gather the kids into your lap while you nurse the baby. Short term, yes, it may be scary to think about the amount of time they are watching TV, but long term you know you will eventually feed them a real breakfast and lunch, but for now...granola bars are easy for them to get themselves. Ha.
After a new baby, recovering from sickness, rainy days, you name it---there just plain are seasons where we can't be the parents we are in our minds and we just need to do our best to spend time with our kids in close proximity even if it's in our laps watching a movie. I can think of worse things. Don't feel guilty.