The Real Mama #1 Janine Walker

Hello & happy Thursday – or Almost Wine Day as it’s known at Promise HQ. 

A couple of weeks ago I did a *very detailed poll on Instagram stories asking what you wanted to see here. Weddings or Other Stuff were the options and much to my surprise Other Stuff was the outright winner, so other stuff you shall have. Each week we still share all.the.pretty wedding content – see Shona and Rafa’s awesome day here. 

Today I am SUPER EXCITED to launch our new series, The Real Mama, kicking off with one of lifes absolute gems, Janine Walker. I completely love the bones of this girl, we go way back to when Janine was an awesome wedding photographer and we chatted a lot about the next Mulberry bag we were going to purchase – also know as, the time before kids. 

Like me Janine likes to keep it real, so whether you’re enjoying this with your morning coffee or over a glass of red be careful you don’t snort it out your nose because her answers will make you laugh, I promise. Thanks J for being number one in the series and happy weekend to you all, Em xx

the real mama janine walker

 

Who are you?

I am Janine Walker – photographer/talker of crap on the internet/professional bitcher about instagram/wanker with cankles.

Instagram handle

janinewalker/rinkadinkstudio

Love it or Loathe it?

I love it and loath it in equal measure. I love it for connections – we’ve made some amazing connections with #radsnaps over the years. I love looking back at my photos and laughing about the good and the bad. I love meme accounts. 

I loathe instagram for it’s ‘influencer culture’. The entire thing is puke-inducing. ‘Let me show you all here how pretty and perfect I am in picture form whilst simultaneously telling you I’m a disaster and insecure/anxious/untidy/imperfect in order to endear myself to you and sell you whatever I am being paid to sell.’ Most toxic place on the internet if you spend too long on there. 

What is your family set up?

Married to Andy with three boys – Jack/13, Charlie/11 and Will/8.

Where you live?

80% in my head and 20% in the dirt.

What do you do for work?

I photograph all of the most delicious tiny humans in Northern Ireland and beyond for RinkaDink Studio.

Three words that describe your household?

Shouty. Spicy. Chaos.

Do you think you have a good work/life balance?

I have a brilliant work/life balance. Well, now I do. It only took me around 6 years to figure it out. We’ve tried the daycare route, the nanny route, the juggling route…we’ve tried it all. Finally this year we have found the balance. And for me, that boils down to me being at home more as I’m the person who keeps the structure of the day-to-day intact. 

Many moons ago (actually, 7 years) I worked around the clock with no structure, no time limits, no care for anything else. But then three boys moved into my house and that required me to make some huge changes. The summer the boys moved in I had 38 weddings on the books and it was absolutely terrible to miss so many of those precious first days with them. I decided right then and there that I was done with weddings and booking my weekends out years in advance. I enjoyed photographing my newly adopted kids so much that I decided to go full time into children’s photography. I wanted to solve a couple of problems I had – I wanted a business that I could centre around the hours that suited ME and MY FAMILY to work. I also wanted an indoor location that had great natural light – Northern Irish weather is so unpredictable and rescheduling shoots did not fit in with my new family life. The option of Lifestyle photography inside someone’s home was always there too but that involved a lot of travel for just one shoot, and I never knew what the lighting situation would be. 

So, RinkaDink was borne! We have a NewbCube – a specialty room for newborns. A huge white naturally lit space, kids can run and play and not even realise they are being photographed. A big bed for babies and toddlers. And it’s all indoors so your blow-dry is safe! The best about it is, I work the hours that suit my family life so I am rarely stressed about work these days. 

the real mama janine walker

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids?

I shoot two days a week in our Belfast studio and on those two days I’m home in and around the same time as the kids getting home from school. If I’m running late Andy takes Will to his work with him for an hour, the other two walk home themselves anyway. The days I’m not shooting, I write/edit/blog etc from home when the kids are in school.  

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

When things get too shouty we take to the hills. Literally. The Mournes are our happy place. Also, laughter is the best medicine. We make fun of each other, our stresses, how we connect. You would need to have a good sense of humour to survive in this house. Willing to take a bit of stick.

How do you relax? 

Knitting and wine. At the same time. The knitting stops me drinking too fast, the wine stops me knitting too fast. 

Best book you’ve read recently?

I discovered Charles Bukowski last year and read everything. I loved Post Office, “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”.

Any other books you need to share?

James Frey A Million Little Pieces was so interesting in the way it was written. I enjoyed it and the followup My Friend Leonard. 

I literally just read Catcher In The Rye last year and loved it so much I went back to the beginning and read it again. 

The Stranger by Albert Camus. 

I enjoyed the Tattooist of Auschwitz a few months ago.

I will read anything Philippa Gregory writes, her latest book The Last Tudor was as satisfying as all the rest. I’m obsessed with Tudor times and Philippa’s ‘enhancements’ on reality!

I read Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs and the follow ups this year and thoroughly enjoyed.

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Lost in the Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg

Jordan B Peterson 12 Rules For Life – An antidote to chaos. This book brought me back to life after a really rough year with my epilepsy. I highly recommend it – though Jordan can be controversial with his ideas.

Music choices?

Having a quick squizz of my recent plays on Spotify it seems my choices of the moment are The Greatest Showman (original and reimagined), A Star is Born soundtrack, The Cranberries, The Beautiful South, Rod Stewart, Tom Odell, Dr Hook, Leonard Cohen, Elton John, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Take That, Ed Sheeran, Pink, Aerosmith and Imagine Dragons. To name but a few.

Favourite podcasts?

Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Tim Ferriss (sometimes – I have a love/hate relationship with him) and Russell Brand.

How do you and your husband stay connected?

We make fun of each other, laugh at each other and threaten to kill each other on a daily basis. Our mutual despair at the other’s shortcomings connects us on a very deep level.

the real mama janine walker

Style – do you feel you have a signature style?

There’s inside leggings and there’s outside leggings. There’s jeans that are secretly leggings. There’s t-shirts and there’s trainers. Yup, that about sums up my signature ‘style.’ 

Shops you love?

ASOS. They sell everything and you don’t have to be outside surrounded by other humans. Shopping is my least favourite life activity. They also make it very easy to return the ‘wtf was I thinking’ and ‘shouldn’t let myself on the internet after the third glass of wine’ items.

Tesco online – why would you walk around a shop when a very nice man will bring it to your door for £3?!

Amazon – I’m ashamed (not remotely) to say I buy everything else from Amazon (I was shamed for this on a Facebook post once and now I feel like I should publicly declare my shame for doing something that is easy, cheap and convenient. Snowflakes, eh?).

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

Can I just put 100 crying with laughter emojis as an answer?! Since you know me for many many years now through my blogging antics Emma, you can probably answer this better than me. But yes, long gone are the days of 7 inch Louboutins and outrageously beautiful designer handbags. All of my money is now spent on Jake Paul merch and terrible, awful, shiny Adidas boy clothing. When it all becomes too much I go and sniff my beautiful – now impractical – handbags and look at my too-high shoes in their gorgeous boxes and regret nothing.

 

Beauty products you love? 

HA HA! Beauty products – have you seen me 😂

Boxed hair dye (the one with Davina McCall’s face on it) because I’m too lazy to go to the hairdresser. I usually go once a year before Christmas – I don’t purposefully do this it’s just that I say all year long ‘must book a hair appointment’ and then it’s December and I say ‘Aw shite, I look like a banshee’ and text my hairdresser to which she responds with 100 cry/laugh/eyeroll emojis. Anyway, when I’m colouring my white roots every 3 weeks (Andy refers to me as The Badger if I leave it longer than this) I slap a bit of it on my eyebrows as they too are going white. Aileen, our assistant at RinkaDink, is particularly perturbed by this beauty hack (she used to manage salons and is quite knowledgeable about makeup type things). 

I’m probably also the only person on earth who is still using Rimmel BB Cream as foundation. 

I’ve been using the same L’Oreal Elvive shampoo for 20 years now. 

I don’t know how I did life without dry shampoo. And I don’t care if it’s going to make me bald some day. I also sit in the sun without factor 50 on and yes, it has aged me drastically. But so has motherhood and I don’t regret that either.

This is everything I know about beauty products. I didn’t even know I knew this much! If it weren’t for my baby sister saying my face looked like a boiled egg a few years ago I probably wouldn’t know about the eyebrow business being important. Hence the slapping on of the hair dye once a month. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Sunday roast.

Rainy day survival tactic?

Well my youngest is feral so he won’t be housed no matter the weather. He will be out there kicking a ball about no matter what’s falling from the sky. The other two are either meeting their mates, playing football or hanging out on Fortnite so I’ve got an easy enough gig here. When they were younger I just had to take them out in it. That saying about boys, ‘Run them hard and feed them well’ is so true. If you don’t run the spice out of them you will pay the price!

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

Beats headphones. 

Mash Direct (I’ve become such a lazy arse about peeling and boiling and mashing veg myself).

Start teaching them independence as early as possible. My boys have been putting their own washing away for years. I organised their drawers to make it easy for them – Will could do it all himself from age 4. They can all cook basic meals (Will actually gets quite fancy sometimes!) for themselves if they need to. They know how to use the washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher. They can fully shower, do their hair, trim their nails and get dressed themselves. Jack and Charlie go to the barbers themselves and know what to ask for. They hoover and mop and dust, clean bathrooms and stay on top of their rooms in order to access to Xbox controllers. Oh yes I do!

This is the greatest mum hack of all time because when they are 8 years old and can quietly make their own breakfast and amuse themselves for an hour or two, you might get a lie-in when you really need it! It just makes life easier all round when you work as a team in the house instead of everything hinging on your mum super powers and magical ability to do everything for everyone. Divide and conquer the workload! (I am by no means saying that this doesn’t require a large amount of nagging).

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

Don’t feckin’ stress because it all works out better than you could have imagined. Every single bad thing you go through will end up being the making of you.

See, didn’t I tell you she was the ultimate awesome-mama!!

*disclaimer – the poll wasn’t very detailed!