To say life for working mom-of-two Onyi Azih is busy is a major understatement. For starters, she has two day jobs: she works long hours as a physician assistant while also running the successful lifestyle, travel, and motherhood blog, Sincerely Onyi. And she’s a mom to a pair of adorable boys whom she’s raising as a part-time solo parent while her husband works out of town two weeks per month. We’re already exhausted just writing about her day-to-day duties as a medical professional, content creator, and mom!
Wondering how Onyi juggles it all? Keep scrolling to read all about her careers, how she handles having a long-distance marriage, her best motherhood hacks, and her super organized daily routine.
Name: Onyi Azih
Current Titles: Physician Assistant and Blogger at Sincerely Onyi
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Houston and Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nevada
Children: Gozie, 3, and Kezie, 20 months
First, can you walk us through how you got to this point in your career?
I knew nothing about working as a PA when I was an undergrad trying to figure out what I was going to do for a career. I finally settled on studying nutrition after I investigated almost every avenue of medicine. My mom was a nurse, but I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse. And I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor although that path was really pushed on me. So when I discovered the title of physician assistant, I realized the position had everything I wanted, including the flexibility I hoped for in a job. I also wanted to be able to change specialties pretty much on a whim. As a PA, I’m able to have the flexibility I desire but also get the respect of other medical providers.
I got into PA school on my first try — which was pretty shocking — and during school, back in 2011, I also started blogging because I moved away from all of my family and friends and was looking for a community and felt that creating a blog would help me find people online and not feel so alone. So, that’s how I first started blogging too! Then, in 2013, I pivoted my blog’s content more towards wedding planning after I got engaged and the site pivoted again in 2017 to where I am now writing about motherhood, travel, and lifestyle.
Your career as a PA seems pretty demanding. Can you give us an idea of the hours you work each week and how you balance your workload with being a mom of two young boys?
When I started working again after my first maternity leave, my schedule was a little crazy. I was actually working overnight from about 5 pm to 3 am or had a 12-hour shift from 7 pm to 7 am. But I recently decided to start working part-time because my husband works out of town for two weeks per month. So, to try to gain a little more balance between my home life and work life, I decided to work as a PA part-time and do my blog full-time. I now work three days per week in the clinic from about 10 am to 6 pm, and then I’m with the boys and try to catch up on blog stuff during the in-between hours. Then the other four days per week I’ve dedicated to working on the blog full-time.
Your husband works out of town two weeks per month, but he’s a full-time dad the other two weeks. Tell us how that works for your family.
When he’s working, I do everything with the boys. So when he’s home, he’s a full-time, stay-at-home parent, and I really take advantage when he gets back in town! He’s so hands-on and such an awesome dad. His schedule is a blessing and a curse. We love having that family time when he can 100% focus on us when he’s home, and we really take that time to make memories through travel.
When your husband is out of town, what additional childcare do you use for the boys?
Our childcare situation has changed throughout the years. We initially had a live-in nanny up until this past January when I went part-time at work. Now, our kids are in daycare when I’m in clinic three days per week and at the end of the day — if my husband isn’t in town — I have a mommy’s helper come by for about two hours to help with dinnertime and give me a little space to decompress after work. Then on Thursday mornings, if I have to shoot content or work on blog stuff, I also have a babysitter during the day. At the moment, I don’t work weekends unless it’s blog-related, but I may soon be picking up more PA shifts at an ER so that would change things. When someone asks me how I juggle my schedule, I truly say I don’t know. I just keep going because I can’t stop! I don’t even always have time to think about it — just find a solution and keep moving.
How did you decide to switch from having a live-in nanny to having both boys in daycare?
It was an unfortunate decision to have to make because our nanny was a family friend who had to leave town to go live with her sister who was ill and needed help. We made the decision that we didn’t want to have to get to know someone else that we didn’t love and trust as much as her. For us, we literally had someone we love in our house and someone who was caring for and loved our boys as much as we do. So we chose to let them go ahead and start school, which was a difficult transition because they were both so sick for so long — actually, they’re still sick, we go to their doctor’s office like every week — from being in daycare with other kids. But it’s still been a good transition for them because they’ve learned so much and grown so much from this experience. It’s not as convenient as having a nanny, but we just chalk it up to one of the many changes we have to accept as time goes on.
Can you walk us through your daily routine?
Once my boys wake up, my oldest is immediately asking for waffles, so we go downstairs, and I’ll make waffles, pancakes — of course, they both like something a little different to eat! — and sausage. I’m most likely fasting myself until lunchtime so while they’re having breakfast, I’ll get their lunches together for school (if I didn’t do it the night before!) and get everything else together. I’m not usually dressed yet by this time. I take the boys to school by 7:30 am and, after that, I return home and start working on Sincerely Onyi. Then between 7:45 am and 8 am, my blog assistant arrives at my house and we’ll typically get about an hour or an hour and a half of work done before I have to quickly get ready for the day.
My shift at the clinic starts at 10 am, so I leave my house between 9:15-9: 30 am to get there on time. My workday is full of seeing patients. Before the end of the day, I close out all my charts and try to rush through traffic to get back to my side of town to pick the boys up from daycare around 6 pm. After that, I’ll bring them into the house and hopefully have dinner ready because they’ll be at my heels crying and screaming that they’re hungry. Dinner is either rice and stew — a typical dish from our Nigerian culture — or it might be fish sticks and chicken nuggets. I’ll eat my dinner during this time, too, because once they’re in bed, I don’t like to go back downstairs!
Immediately after dinner, we go straight into bath time and our bedtime routine of reading a book, praying, Facetiming dad, and going to bed. I tend to get really sleepy myself once I put the kids down, so I’ll try to finish up any work for the blog that’s due that day before I fall asleep by 10 pm. I usually don’t have any chill time after the boys go to sleep for myself — I haven’t watched any of my favorite shows lately except Game of Thrones, which I watched with my husband when he was in town!
Does your daily routine change much when your husband is home?
Yes! He takes the reins, and I’m more relaxed. I might stay up or I might go right to sleep after the boys when my husband is in town — my schedule is definitely more flexible because I don’t have to do the nighttime routine with the kids those days. I might make dinner, but he’ll feed it to them. We’ll switch off giving them baths. He’ll take over the majority of taking care of them when he’s back in town.
You’ve written a lot about raising two kids under two on your blog. What has having two children close together in age been like?
Having two under two was a rollercoaster! But life’s still a rollercoaster even though they’re now a bit older because they still both want to be carried all the time, at the same time. So that’s my biggest struggle right now, trying to carry both of them together in the morning when they want to be cuddled and when I’m trying to get stuff done for them. But it’s still so adorable. Having them so close in age was definitely challenging at first. Trying to juggle your firstborn — who is really no longer a baby — and then having another baby who needs your attention was just a lot.
How has motherhood impacted you as both a person and a professional?
As a person, it’s changed me much more. It’s allowed me to see and relate to the other side of the fence because I was the first of my friends to have a child. So now, I better understand why people disappear socially when they have a baby or why they want to stay home with their kids — things I just didn’t understand when I was single or without children. Being a mom has taught me patience and allowed me to be more loving and kind because I was definitely more concentrated on “me, me, me” before and that definitely had to change after having my kids.
Career-wise, I’m able to relate more to my patients and understand their responsibilities and why their focus may not always be on their health. It’s so much responsibility when you have other people’s lives in your hands! I definitely relate more to my patients being a mom.
As a working mom in the medical industry, did you find that your boss and co-workers were understanding of you wanting to start a family?
Absolutely not. When I got pregnant, I was working in orthopedic surgery, and it was a very negative experience. The surgeons [I worked under] didn’t care that I was pregnant, and I could tell that my situation was interfering with them, their work, and how they were trying to conduct surgery, so I left that job before I had my first son because I knew it ultimately wasn’t going to be a good fit for me. When I was expecting my second son, I was working at a pediatric hospital, which was a much more positive experience.
Overall, my industry still expects you to show up for work even though your kid is sick — you can’t just leave your patients hanging. It’s really hard. There have been times at work when I’ve broken down and cried because the daycare will call me and tell me my son is sick and my husband is out of town and I don’t have family in town and I’m like, “What’s going to happen?” It’s been hectic and my industry hasn’t been that understanding of me having a family, and that’s why I was happy to not work full-time and focus on my blog instead. Not having that constant pressure and thought of, “What are we going to do?” when I’m the only one here for my kids has been a welcome change.
What were your maternity leave experiences like working in the medical profession?
I technically took maternity leave during my first pregnancy but ended up quitting that job and we relocated to Texas. I started working again when my oldest son was about four months old. It was hard because my husband actually lost his job before we found out we were pregnant with our first and still hadn’t found a new job by the time our son was born. So that was very financially scary. I knew I wasn’t ready to go back to work after giving birth and we, thankfully, had family support after we had our eldest son.
For my second child, I returned to work when he was three months old, and we moved from Houston to San Antonio, so that was my maternity leave and time off. After my second child was born, my husband was working again, so my maternity leave was more of a transition period when I worked to reestablish my blog. I’m glad that I took the time that I did after having both kids, but I’m also the kind of mom that knows I’d rather be working than be at home full-time.
When you returned to work after your maternity leaves, did you have to relearn a lot? How did that transition back into the working world feel?
I definitely had to relearn things, but that was mostly because I was going into a new specialty at the time. So, it was kind of the same shock and transition that I’d get anyways with my job. I just knew I had to give myself grace and hope that those around me would be supportive and understanding. Some people were, some weren’t, but you make the best of what you’re given.
What’s been the hardest part of transitioning from a physician assistant to a part-time PA and full-time blogger?
Keeping the two worlds separate. I have to focus on blog work when it’s time and, luckily, as a physician assistant, I don’t have to take work home. But it’s still a lot time-wise because I still need to study as a PA and am constantly reviewing, so carving out enough time to do that when you’re also an entrepreneur can be tough. When you have your own business, you don’t have set hours — it’s hard for me to set strict hours and turn my blogging brain off, it’s something I feel like I think about 24/7. My blog work often seeps into motherhood as well.
Do you ever experience mom-guilt? If so, how do you manage it?
That’s one of the biggest issues for me. Mom-guilt is a heavy cloud that I’ve accepted I’ll always walk around with. I want to be able to be there and available for everything and to be 100 percent present, but it’s not always possible, especially when I’m working outside the home and working from home. It feels like there’s always something that wants to pull my attention. So, being able to carve out time has helped, whether it’s totally withdrawing and traveling away somewhere or saying that certain days I’m not doing anything and giving myself time off. But no matter what, I’m still feeling guilty when I bring my kids home after work and I have them with a babysitter after they’ve been away from me all day at daycare and now they’re with another childcare provider instead of me playing with them. It’s tough. Even when I work from home, nothing really takes away the mom-guilt.
Do you ever have time for self-care? How do you fit that into your already busy schedule?
I rarely do but when I can, I multitask. Like talking to you right now while I’m at the nail salon! I have someone watching the kids today which is a treat and a treasure, so I thought, “I’m going to the salon!” I always have to plan ahead. It doesn’t happen often but I’m able to take time for myself when my husband is in town, so that’s when I’m a little selfish and do my thing. But I also have to be considerate and be there for my husband too. Otherwise, things are full steam ahead all the time when he’s out of town, so no time for self-care.
What is the most rewarding part of being a parent? And what do you feel is the most challenging aspect of motherhood?
Most rewarding is just their love — their hugs and their kisses. Some of that stuff kind of slows down or goes away as they get older but seeing them grow and become their own person is a big reward too. Feeling like, “I made it! I kept them alive!” is the biggest accomplishment. The most challenging part is being their everything. Sometimes I’m like, “OK, when is the adult going to come back? Oh, it’s me who has to take care of them?” Being the one to keep everything afloat can be difficult.
When it comes to being a mom, what are you most insecure about? And what do you feel most confident about?
To be honest, I’m probably most insecure about not feeding them enough vegetables! I’m trying to mix them in and I know I have a degree in nutrition, but my house does not eat as many vegetables as I’d hope that we do. I’m most confident about the values we’re instilling in our boys because I see a lot of manners we’ve taught them and a lot of the culture we’ve grown up with having parents who are immigrants. I love watching them grow and learn how to express themselves.
If you had to pick one, what’s been your favorite motherhood memory with your boys so far?
Taking them to the beach! When I do things like that with them that are kind of out of the ordinary, I look forward to them remembering a little piece of that in the future. Like them thinking, “I remember my mom in a bathing suit” or “I remember my toes in the sand.” We took them to the beach for the first time last year and we’re going again this summer, so I’m just excited to drop little nuggets of memories in their minds because those are the things that stick out to me when I think back on my childhood.
Can you share with us three mom hacks you rely on to make things work in your day-to-day life?
- Order groceries! I used to love going to the grocery store but realized so much of my time spent there could instead be quality time spent with my boys. Now, I make sure to add to my list each day of the week so, by Friday, all my items can be delivered to my house. No need to pack toddlers into the car to get groceries!
- Use a mother’s helper. For the past three months, while my husband works out of town, I’ve been doing everything on my own after returning home from work. Because of this professional and personal workload, I recently had a bit of a mental breakdown and realized I needed help with after school care for my kids. Now, I have someone come by our house for two hours each weekday to help me with dinnertime and tidying up before bedtime. It’s helped save my sanity!
- Always have a backup plan! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called to pick up my kids while my husband is working out of town and I’m unable to leave work. It helps to have someone — a family member, babysitter, neighbor, close friend, anyone! — you can call for help during a time like this.
Onyi Azih is The Everymom…
Favorite family tradition? Oatmeal and akara on Sundays. It’s a family tradition in our culture, and I love that it’s something our picky toddlers are actually into.
Easy go-to family meal to prepare? If not chicken nuggets in the air fryer then rice and stew — a Nigerian dish made simply with grinder tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, and curry — simmered and then served on a bed of parboiled rice.
Your dream vacation? My dream vacation would be a month-long trip starting with a week in Dubai with a chauffeur, chef, and babysitter followed by three weeks in Nigeria (between Lagos and Abuja) with the same perks!
Guilty pleasure? Eating Tres Leches cake and watching reality TV. Let me binge on both of those all day, and I’m in heaven!
Most embarrassing mom moment? One day, after picking the boys up from daycare, I buckled my son Kezie in his car seat and, just as I was settling into the driver’s seat and started the car, my oldest son, Gozie, proclaimed, “It’s broken, mommy!” I forgot to buckle him into his seat too. At least he knows he needs to be buckled in and speaks up!
Proudest career achievement? Getting into the medical specialties of my dreams: emergency medicine and aesthetics.
Favorite date night activity? Salsa dancing! Haven’t had a chance to do it in years, though.
Best mom advice you’ve been given? As long as the parents are OK, the kids will be OK!