Good Morning Ehellions,
I'm hoping to get some advice for dealing kindly and politely with with my next door neighbor, who has become increasingly needy and negative over the five years we've lived next to her. Just as BG, the neighbor in question, I'll call her Nancy, is somewhere in her 70's and raised five kids on our street. Her husband, also in his 70's, owns a business and still works seven days a week, often staying in his shop overnight. One of their adult children lives at home, the others are scattered across the country. Nancy has a couple friends she talks about socializing with a few times a month, but seems generally pretty lonely. When the weather is warm she spends a good bit of the day sitting on her porch.
I was a SAHM for the first three years we lived here and spent a lot of time outside with my two small children, either playing with them or working in my front yard, which I've redone. Nancy would often be on her porch and I got in the habit of stopping to chat about general things. There were times when she'd be talking to me when I was trying to interact with the kids or work, but overall the situation was manageable. Over time, however, the topics she picks have become increasingly negative and repetitive. She complains about almost everyone on the street for one reason or another--where they park their cars, their landscaping and porch decorating choices, and any real or imagined slights they've dealt her. She also tells me stories about her family life, most of which are about the way she has been mistreated. I have a certain amount of sympathy for her, but all of this is exhausting, and I'm often at a loss for how to respond. Not that she lets me get many words in anyway.
For the last two years I've been working from home, and I have less time for yard work. My kids are older and involved in more activities, so the time I'm outside with them has decreased. Basically now if I'm out in the front it's to take care of things like watering and weeding. I can't spare as much time to chat, which is infinitely less appealing anyway. I've been clear about having less time to talk. Meanwhile, she won't leave her porch and my hearing isn't the best, so when she starts talking to me I feel obligated to stop what I'm doing and walk over to her, at which point she'll start talking and not stop, even when I say things like "I really need to get back to my watering" or whatever. There are times when I've been "prisoner" for 30 minutes or more and have finally had to resort to telling her I hear my timer, or one of my kids, which I hate to do. I'm also at the point where I check for her before I go out to work, and dread the sound of her front door if I'm already out there.
Any suggestions for setting some boundaries with her without being downright rude? When I tell her I need to get back to whatever I was in the middle of she either pretends she hasn't heard or will acknowledge what I've said but keep talking.
Oh, and wearing headphones doesn't work.
Thanks in advance!