Tales from Lockdown: Najlaa Noonan
In this series, we speak to Xenomorph employees and ask them to share their experiences of lockdown, how it has impacted their day-to-day lives and if they have any tips or recommendations for their colleagues. Today’s conversation is with Xenomorph Americas operations director Najlaa Noonan in Connecticut.
Xeno: Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Xenomorph?
I’m Najlaa and I manage operations for Xenomorph in the Americas. I work in New York city, but live in Fairfield Connecticut with my husband James and our daughters, Suraya (6) and Zahra (3). We moved here around 18 months ago from the UK, which is where we are from originally.
Xeno: How has the lockdown changed your day-to-day routine?
Najlaa: Before the lockdown, James and I would both work from home for a few days in the week, although with Suraya and Zahra at school and day care. On the weekends, we’d typically be out somewhere with the kids (Zahra loves NYC, and telling people she loves NYC…), and James and I would try and have date nights.
Now that we’re both working from home, we have to share our calendars with each other to juggle who looks after the kids and works, and who has the office, and we tag in and out of these roles throughout the day. Suraya has a full school day, every day. It keeps her busy, but it does require a lot of our help. We’re doing our best to keep Zahra busy, but she can’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes so it’s a real struggle, sadly whilst the three of us are working, she isn’t getting the attention she deserves. We all did our best to make this up to her on her birthday, one of a few lockdown celebrations we’ve had.
Xeno: What aspect of the lockdown have you found hardest, either from a personal or professional perspective?
Najlaa: The girls are frustrated with the current situation, and on occasion that has affected their behaviour. Whereas usually there would be an immediate consequence for poor behaviour, we’re being a little more lenient at the moment.
There have been days where all of us have struggled, but the key is to not put too much pressure on yourself. We always tell the girls, ‘It doesn’t matter as long as you try your best’, we’re applying that to pretty much everything right now, it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve in a day.
Xeno: Are there any tips that you would offer to colleagues and industry peers at this time?
Najlaa: The advice I’d give is find ways to differentiate the weekend from the week, which I admit is a challenge. We’ve been trying to come up with themes. As I type this now, I’m partaking in a pyjama/games day, so we’ve spent all morning in our PJs!
In terms of support and resources, For Suraya, the best resource she has used is Prodigy. I’d describe it as Pokémon mixed with Maths – and she’s now doing a lot more Maths because of it! For Zahra there has been a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney+ and Googling to create her activities throughout the week. For Zahra’s birthday, we asked friends and family to record messages that she watched (with popcorn) on her birthday.
Xeno: What positives can you take from this experience?
Najlaa: There are definitely some positives. James and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week, so we lit a bunch of candles on our porch and had a candlelit dinner together. Despite still being in our house, it felt like a real treat. We’ve also been seeing and speaking to friends and family back home very frequently – having zoom quizzes and game nights each weekend. So, whilst everyone back home have become less available to each other, they’ve actually become more available to us (especially given the time difference). And during lockdown, Suraya has learned how to ride a bike, so we’re looking forward to some family bike rides in the near future!