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Family Matters: The Burns Family

Photos By Hillary Ehlen

Chelsea Burns and her 3-year-old son Ozzie are a fun-loving duo. Chelsea is the Marketing Director at Michael J. Burns Architects, but also enjoying flexing her creative muscle at her design business, Cho.Be Art & Design. To keep the two of them company, they share their home with Margot the Great Dane and Beatrix the Border-Aussie.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have received about being a parent?

You know, I think that most people have this “idea” of what kind of parent they are going to be and what kind of life they will have as a family. Some of us more than others. But no matter how much you plan for the future as a parent, things will eventually change. That’s not to say that some things might not work out, but, in all actuality, you might get to a point where you’re sitting open-mouthed wondering how in the heck you even got to where you are. And here’s what I wish people would prepare you for: I wish people would tell you that it’s totally OK if things change. And not in that snarky “oh yeah, I am so sure you’re really gonna use cloth diapers,” way. But in a gentle way that encourages you to be prepared for the fact that you will survive those changes, you just have to be kind to yourself; forgive yourself for not being perfect, for not meeting every expectation. It will happen, and it will be OK. You will move on and you’ll make new plans.

What are your favorite things to do as a family in the winter?

I haven’t quite figured this out yet. Having a toddler in the winter is HARD. Having a toddler with an anxiety disorder/sensory processing disorder is even harder. I try to get us out of the house as often as possible – Barnes & Noble is a favorite hot spot, PetSmart to “visit the animals” and get our pets supplies and we have our favorite restaurants. But, I always have to be conscious of where I take Ozzie, a lot of places can be a sensory overload for him, so we are working on it.

What are some tips for surviving a work/life balance?

Is there really such a thing? We all know we should get 6-8 hours of sleep and eat right and work out. But, I’m single. I work full-time, own a secondary business, and have full parenting rights (plus the three fur-children!) I thank God every day that I have an incredibly flexible job that allows me to do what I need to do, like going to appointments or staying home with a sick kid or making sure I am there for school events. I also make sure I take care of my health/mental health and Ozzie’s, too— it is a major priority for both of us.

How have you seen your parenting change over the years?

I mean, I haven’t been a parent long, but I think I was pretty spazzy as a new mom. Especially as a pregnant lady—oh boy—I would like to offer my apology to anyone who was around me then. I am wholeheartedly sorry. I was a real piece of self-righteous work. I had things “pretty figured out” back then. Boy, was I wrong. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know to plan for a NICU baby, or a kid with anxiety or a sensory processing issue. I didn’t know how much I would learn about how your child tells you how they need to be parented. I think I am way more laid back now. And certainly, above all else, I am way more willing to ask for help because, God knows, I can’t do this alone.

Where do you like to shop for kids gear?

As a maker, I support the makers: Free to Be Kids, Wee Rascals, Odarling Clothing Co., Spill the Beans Etc Co, The Wild Bambino, to name some of our favorites. I make most of the décor for his room and spaces and we love when his cousins give him hand-me-downs for toys!

What’s your favorite kid-friendly restaurant?

There are a lot of great places in town, but we like, Village Inn, No-Bull, Moe’s, Mandarin Kitchen and GP’s Greek Kitchen.

Do you have any other fun family tips?

Discuss gratefulness, you may be surprised what you find out. We spend time talking about all the things we are thankful for every night. Nothing is off limits. We can be thankful for everything from the food we eat to toenails to “beautiful chairs.” (direct quote from Ozzie, I still don’t know what chairs he was referring to).

Also, make your own traditions. We make and snail mail out Valentines Day cards. We celebrate St. Lucia Day by baking lussekatter. We celebrate our pets’ birthdays with pupcakes and decorations. If we can make something special in a way that we can remember, why not?

What are your favorite things to do as a family in the summer?

Be outside, be outside, be outside, be outside! No, but seriously. We have magnetic screens on our patio doors, so if it’s nice enough, everything’s open. The dogs go in and out, Ozzie goes in and out, and I do, too. Ozzie and I started to garden together last year, we aren’t great at it, but it was so fun to learn about things together and see him get so excited when one strawberry would grow (seriously, only one at a time). But we get dirty and dig in the mud and sand. I love to find old sheets at thrift stores and I hang them on the fence, and then we paint them with washable paint. When it rains, they are fresh and we paint again! We make our fun, we don’t have a lake place or anything, and I’ve really come to appreciate how quiet the summer weekends get around here. We get to explore or turn our speakers up super loud in the backyard because all of the neighbors are gone! We also frequent the zoo (that membership pays for itself) and the Red River Market.

What is a local family-friendly event you look forward to?

You know, I don’t know if they are necessarily “family-friendly,” but I have made them that way… I have a kid who is really interested in music (so am I). So, we like to go to the Classical Music Festival and FM Symphony Small Music Ensembles. He gets to learn about what he loves. I also love the Viking Festival at the Hjemkomst and love when they do craft markets at the breweries that are family friendly.

Favorite way to get energy (of you and/or your child) out?

Dance parties. We ask Alexa to play us something (not going to lie, I rarely get first choice of music) and we run around the kitchen and family room marching, elephant stomping, crab crawling and ninja jumping. The dogs and cat usually join in the chaos and I hope they don’t stop until I am 90.

What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself and take time for yourself?

Volunteering. Which sounds sanctimonious, but in all honesty, it’s a totally selfish thing for me. I know that I have a special set of skills that I can give to the community and that set of skill allows me to connect with actual grownups AND it lets me flex my creative muscles in a way I wouldn’t necessarily do otherwise. I have these wonderful committees of people that I volunteer with that I genuinely love to be around, and they challenge me to think about things from different points of view and to create in those ways. Also on my list: my awesome friends that can make anything fun, staying up too late binging Netflix, DIY projects and making art.

Written by Alexandra Martin

Alexandra Martin is the editor of Fargo Monthly. She hails from Huntsville, Alabama, but graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri with a degree in Fashion Communications. When she's not in the office, she is busy taking care of her small zoo of pets, cooking up vegetables, or listening to true-crime podcasts.

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