My husband and I were just talking this morning about changing family worship around to one extended time in the evening instead of what we currently do which is twice a day about 20 minutes each time. We thought that it might be helpful in training the children to sit for longer periods of time.
Our children are 7,5,3,1, and another one due in September. I appreciate your advice because you have experience. Have you tried this? Does it work better to have shorter times twice a day or one longer time? What has been the most helpful thing for you in training your kids for corporate worship?
You've got some tough ages no matter the amount of time. Is your church set up so that you could bring in a booster chair (like the kind you put at the table with its own little tray and a belt to keep baby in) and have the one-year-old in it? My friend Lisa is doing that with her two-year-old with great success. You could train the one-year-old to sit there and color or look at a book during your family worship, and then you'd have a fighting chance with the three-year-old while at the same time your belly is growing! That's where I am now; I cannot physically hold the one-year-old on my lap in church right now and my husband's responsibilities of serving communion, doing the call to worship, etc. keep him from being able to help (like yours!) What do you think?
I know that doesn't directly answer your question, but really I just think you have two toughies at the bottom end. And nothing is ever perfect-- the seven-year-old needs a Kleenex, the five-year-old falls off his/her chair (this has happened twice to us), the three-year-old wants Daddy, the one-year-old is being one...
Bottom line? Do what works. For some people that also means utilizing older children to help. I have strong feelings about that; I'm the mom. But if it would be helpful in your household, then perhaps think about setting someone next to your oldest. Church nurseries are a wonderful tool, too.