So how does that work? It's all about compromise . . . there are times when I tell my kids that I NEED some quiet, and as long as it's not TOO often, or for TOO long, they can usually find something quiet to do. I've learned to tune out some too, so that, as long as I don't have to be actively engaged in the loud conversations and loud play, I can let them go on around me most of the time.
Nice weather equals, "if you want to be loud, go OUTSIDE". We have over an acre, with farm fields surrounding our property, so I can, without guilt, let them be as loud as they want outside.
While our homeschool time is always full of interruptions, they are generally either questions and comments about what we're doing, which would be a problem in a classroom setting, but is a valuable tool for them to learn more and for me to gauge what they are learning and understanding, as we go. When Little Bit was younger, we had lots of interruptions to help her with things, but as she gets older, that becomes less of an issue. While she doesn't always remember, she's learning to quietly place her hand on my knee if she has a question while I'm reading, or the big girls and I are discussing something. That way I can get to a stopping point and then answer her question. . . As the big girls have more independent school work, and I am doing more school with Little Bit (and our neighbor, E, when he joins us), there are also times when they will come and stand quietly near where we're doing school, to ask a question.
All three girls have learned to be quiet when required (church, musical performances, etc). for which I'm thankful, and I'm not sure I can really take credit, I never really "taught" that, they just all figured it out. . .
Quiet toys can be key for helping children to be quiet and not-disruptive in public places. For church, Little Bit chooses toys from the "quiet toy bin" to put in my church bag. She also chooses up to 3 snacks from a selection I set out for her to choose from. That way she knows what's in the church bag, and can quietly get what she wants. For "emergencies" when we're out and about, I keep some small, quiet toys in my purse. A pen, pencil, or a couple crayons and a small notepad, is usually a hit. For longer times of quiet play, one of the best things I ever did was take large "popsicle sticks" (I had some the girls had used making a craft project at a children's museum, that I could take apart and re-use, I would guess craft stores would sell smaller packs of them), and velcro dots. It took me about 5 minutes to stick the velcro to each end (both sides) of the craft sticks (it works best to stick the same "side" of the velcro on both sides of one end of the stick and the "other side" of the velcro on both sides of the other end of the stick.
I also found some foam craft sticks on clearance somewhere, sometime (I can't promise the ones I linked to are the same) and did the same thing with them. Little Bit likes both, kinds. And I keep a handful of each in my purse. Sometimes she combines them, sometimes she uses the foam ones to make bracelets and such . . . they get LOTS of use, in lots of different ways and take up very little room!
Finally, I try to make sure I have at least one sewing card in my purse. I make my own by printing out pictures, laminating them, and punching holes in them. Then we just use shoe strings for the string.
Thankfully, ever since the twins were small, they've been understanding when I truly NEED quiet. Once in awhile I get a bad headache that any noise or movement hurts. When they were little, I would have to call my husband home from work, but the girls would be understanding about playing quietly until he could get home, and playing quietly once he was home. Now that they're older, they can "take over" when they need to. They keep Little Bit quietly entertained, and fix simple meals as needed, so that I can sleep my headache off. When the normal day's noise gets on my nerves, I remember how good they are about being quiet when it's really necessary and figure I can handle the noise the rest of the time :)
This post is linked to Ben and Me's Blogging Through the Alphabet.