With my confidence and self esteem in tatters I have found it really difficult to secure employment

My husband and I were together 20 years before I finally fell pregnant with our 1st child, which, coincidently was the very same week that we had an appointment to start fertility treatment. This was in 2007 and I gave up work when I was 5 months pregnant as we moved house from Scotland to England in order to be closer to both of our families.
In September 2008, I secured full time work in a newly created position which was to evolve when I started. My daughter attended nursery full time which worked out very expensive so I requested a reduction of my hours to 30 hours over 4 days which my employer granted after I explained that I was actually working my 5th day for no pay after paying nursery fees.
In 2010, I fell pregnant with my 2nd daughter and the inequality and discrimination began to transpire. My role was to be covered with a new, temporary member of staff working much less than 30 hours and who was not shown my duties before I went on maternity leave. I was asked to do a handover of my outstanding duties to our head office, which was where my role evolved from. On my return from maternity leave in July 2011, having taken me weeks to secure a nursery place for my 2nd daughter which would accommodate my return to work, I was faced with redundancy. All through my pregnancy I had not taken any sick leave and did not ask for extended maternity leave, even though it was going to cost a fortune having both children at nursery on my initial return. In my eyes this would be a short-term financial disadvantage because my eldest daughter would be due to start school shortly after my return to work and we would return to paying for just 1 nursery place. The only concession I requested from my employer was to alter my days of work from 4 days back to 5 but still doing the same 30 hours as my daughter would be starting school and I needed to finish at 3pm each day.
Since being made redundant in November 2011, with my confidence and self esteem in tatters, I have found it really difficult to secure employment working the hours I required with reasonable pay to cover the costs of childcare and my husband and I wouldn’t have sufficient holiday leave, even between us, to cover the school holidays.
Both children are now at school and I am now facing an uphill struggle to get back to work with so many different factors to consider e.g. my age, long term employment gap, static pay, school holidays, restricted hours, etc.
These all sound like excuses for someone not wanting to return to work but I am currently working every weekend, genuinely love working and pride myself on my work history before I had children. Before having them I was blissfully unaware of the issues facing working mums and the inequality and discrimination which still exists in a supposedly modern society.
I wouldn’t change the fact that I have 2 adorable daughters and made sacrifices as a result but I don’t see many men being forced to make the same difficult choices and sacrifices for their children as illustrated in the amount if men who don’t take more than 2 weeks paternity leave.
Employers should be held much more accountable for discrimination and be legally obliged to have much more family friendly policies when they employ over a certain number of people.
Things definitely need to change drastically to bridge the gender pay gap and address the inequalities faced by working mums.

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