From climbing the corporate ladder to creating a life of less to have more, Meet Marnie Prowse from Tiny Haus.
Marnie Prowse’s life was flipped upside down for the better when she took the plunge and quit her demanding career and let go of her perfectionist mindset to build her dream tiny house alongside her family. Since then Marnie has become a slow-life activist who helps others to achieve a slower, more mindful lifestyle through coaching.
After one zoom call, we realised the level of depth that Marnie has to share about what she’s learnt since downsizing, and we thought why not invite Marnie to share that with you over the coming months about how she’s been able to slow down and achieve a lighter, more fulfilled life.
To begin, we thought why not give you the backstory behind Marnie, who she is, what sparked Tiny Haus and what’s she’s learnt along the way.
What made you start Tiny Haus?
Out of school, I began working and climbing the corporate ladder. I was earning money that afforded me the things that, on the outside, made me look to be successful—a fancy house, nice car, extravagant holidays and clothes to match. But I never really enjoyed any of it. I was working long hours and working weekends. I was stressed and too busy to give time to my relationship, my family, my friends and my general well-being. When our first daughter Ella, was born, I didn’t slow down; instead, I threw myself into work more than ever. Ella’s early years were a blur of daycare and shuffling between commitments. We showered her with toys to relieve our guilt. I was trying to be everything to everyone. The inevitable happened, and I burnt out.
My body sent me a loud message “you need to stop what you are doing!”. It took a lot of introspection and soul searching to understand I wasn’t proud of the life I had been living. I wasn’t the mum I wanted my daughter to remember. From that moment, I committed myself to change, to live a life that made me and my family happy. I embarked on a journey to simplify our lives. I let go of my perfectionist ways, to slow down and experience the simplest moments.
It started with clearing out our physical clutter to simplifying our social lives, saying no and creating clear boundaries in our work. Over time we found that we had more time to focus on what was important to us. We were enjoying quality time together and doing things. We realised that we didn’t need belongings to be happy, we didn’t need an expansive home to store our belongings. We decided to create a home that supported our lifestyle, and that gave us freedom. That home was just a mere 32sqm, yet it had all the things that were most important to us.
Going through this experience and the profound impacts that living simply has had on our family and me – I know there are other people out there on a similar path. I have an innate need to share my experience with others and support them on their journey to living a life that matters most to them. I don’t believe you have to live in 32 sqm, stay where you are and live a tiny haus lifestyle.
Tell us a little bit about your tiny house!
We built our tiny haus in our existing backyard. It has everything that a “traditional” home has; kitchen, bathroom, dining, lounge room and two bedrooms, all in 32 sqm.
The design process was challenging, yet this made us more creative. With minimal space, we came up with a vertical bedroom for the girls’ it has two beds, a play area, storage, however, we stacked it in a pod-like system, it’s my favourite space in our home, it’s so much fun – they spend hours with their friends playing, moving through the different levels.
We don’t feel the need to have dedicated spaces in our home. For example, our dining table functions as a homework desk, home office, art and craft table, or our lounge gets pushed aside for yoga, a sheet thrown over the couch is a cubby house, or the couches pushed together for family movie nights.
The outdoor space is an extension of our home, where we spend most of our time entertaining, around the fire and in the warmer months in the pool. We grow food in our kitchen gardens.
When people ask me how long we plan to stay in our tiny haus – my response “as long as it works”. We need to move away from creating a home that will cover every single possibility and more – to what works for your family to enjoy life. Nothing is permanent; home can evolve as we do.
What is the Tiny Haus Lifestyle and why is it so important?
Tiny Haus Lifestyle goes beyond a house and the number of belongings in it. It’s about making a conscious decision to live your version of success. There is a constant stream of media convincing us what we need to be happy; the house, the career, the holidays, the car, the look. Without realising, we compare our lives to these polished portrayals of the perfect life, and we’re conforming to this version of success. Tiny Haus Lifestyle supports people to discover their version of happiness. Clearing out physical and emotional clutter to live our best lives.
How big of a part did motherhood play in making the switch to a slower lifestyle?
Yes, 100%, my elder daughter had a significant impact on our lifestyle changes. I hold regrets as to how I parented in the early years of my daughter’s life. I was so focused on keeping up and being everything to everyone. Looking back, I was missing out on the beautiful little person right in front of me. I now enjoy the simplest of moments by being completely present.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed in your life since adopting a slower lifestyle?
I’m a happier person. When I say this, I don’t mean that for every minute of the day I’m jumping with feelings of ecstasy. Yet it’s a levelled state that has come from:
- Acceptance of my past. My history will not hold me back
- Being acutely aware of what is most important to me
- Awareness of knowing when things aren’t right and the ability to make changes
- Listening to my voice, even when people and society is telling me something else
- Not craving for more
- Loving myself
Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
My morning mantra is relaxed and calm. Previously our mornings were a crazy house of yelling, rushing and stress. It’s funny how time slows when you do. Our mornings now are very chilled. It’s getting the girls ready and in between; reading books, chatting and playing.
Once the girls are at school, I do yoga, meditation or a wim-hof practice. Then shower, finishing on cold.
What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?
You can’t google what I’m doing. My model is a significant shift from what people are used to, stepping away from societies version of success, and paving our very own best life.
I’ve needed to create an awareness of what a simple life is, how I do it and the benefits.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
For me growing up, I needed to fit-in. I was self-conscious. I had my views, but often they were put aside for acceptance. It was my mum & dad who said: “Never trade your authenticity for approval”. It takes confidence in yourself, yet when you live this way, it sparks a fire, and you become happier within yourself.
What’s next for you and Tiny Haus?
The changes that we have implemented in our lifestyle has had such a profound impact on us that I want to continue to share this with more people, so I’m looking at ways I can scale my business, so it’s accessible to more.
One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?
Inward, Yung Pueblo. Everything he writes speaks to me.
13th I recently watched this on Netflix, and it was the most moving doco I’ve seen.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
@spiralgarden are defying convention and living a simple life and sharing weekly easy to implement climate solutions for families.
@theconsciouskid for parents to help in the education of their children against racial inequity and standing up to racial injustice.
@kameachayne has a holistic approach to sustainable living, including, environmentalism, social justice, women empowerment and personal well-being. She also has a great book Thrive: An environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth and Podcast; Green Dreamer.