Hops & Tots was born from my desire to meet other new parents who had a shared interest in beer and to overcome the guilt that sometimes comes with being in a pub with young children. With both my girls I rarely attended baby groups, anyone who has attended one will know they aren’t always the welcoming, fluffy places people imagine them to be. I made an attempt with my second child to go to more of these sessions and I can honestly say I’ve never felt more alone in a room full of people in my life. Anyone who has met me will agree I am far from a shrinking violet but walking into a room full of incredibly hormonal women you don’t know can be fucking brutal at times. In the end I chose a more isolated maternity leave spending my time at baby cinema and baby massage classes. So when Tryanuary 2018 came around the lack of socialisation with other parents was starting to take its toll and the chance to create a baby event that was of my own design was an opportunity not to miss.
At the first Hops & Tots (or Crafty Babies as it was back then) event it had snowed and it took me longer than normal to get across to Head of Steam in Headingley so the pub was open when I arrived. I couldn’t believe the amount of parents already there and James (the then bar manager) said he’d never in his years had people with prams knocking on the door five minutes before opening. The whole day was so overwhelming with everyone saying what a wonderful time they’d had and asked if I would arrange more. A number of parents did ask what the purpose of the event was and loved the fact that it was just a social. No organised fun – just an opportunity for parents to meet in the pub, with toys for the children to play with, good beer and the chance to not worry about their little ones making noise or just generally being kids.
It’s been around five months since I decided to stop doing Hops & Tots events and to say it was met with a sad reaction is an understatement. I’ve spoken about my reasons for making this decision with those close to me and whilst they were supportive the general consensus has always been ‘never say never’. I didn’t realise until I announced that I wasn’t going to continue how many people loved the events, not only the parents who attended every one but also those that hadn’t had the oppourtunity to come yet. A lot of my friends who work in the beer industry have spoken to me over the coming months about doing a further event and this along with the regret that came with not being in a position to arrange a Tryanuary 2019 Hops & Tots social has led to its resurrection.
When I made the announcement on the Hops & Tots Facebook page that I was going to do another event I didn’t expect the instant reaction it got. So many of the parents who came to the other events were so enthusiastic about the return and were sharing and tagging their friends into the post. It made me realise that it isn’t just the act of taking your children to the pub, it’s the set date and venue and knowing that when you get there you will be surrounded by other parents with their children and you can enjoy a beer without judgement.
So it’s back and I’ll be at Nomadic’s Tap Room opening on the 16th March from 12 – 2pm. As ever I am more nervous than excited. Organising events isn’t what I do for a living and I am much calmer at my desk arguing with Solicitors than putting events together, but I’m in it now and I just hope I can take it to bigger and better things throughout 2019.
Me and Matilda will see you at the bar!