Co parenting issues

Hi there. I guess this question is around co-parenting and boundaries. I have an ex husband who has trouble keeping to a schedule. This has been an ongoing issue in our divorce. He either shows up for the kids unannounced or drops off the kids on his days when I am not even home etc.. Now I am having an issue and I don’t know how to create or keep boundaries with this. This year, because of covid, I gave him my week of Christmas break (December 19th – 26th) plus my time after break (January 4th – 15th) because they are going to South America and I know he wanted to take them for 3-4 weeks and I figured with remote learning this would be the one year I would allow this.

So, I thought he would be very appreciative about this and I thought we had an agreement that they would leave on December 19th and return the second week of January. So… then, behind my back he purchased their tickets to leave on the 11th of December. I was already not happy about being away from my children for so long and so for him to take an extra time felt very disrespectful and mean to me. I never gave him permission to do this.

If I run to my lawyer, however, I will create a war. I am so angry that I gave an inch and he took a mile and is taking my kids away for such a long time and they don’t even want to go for that long. He emails me now ordering me to buy them new flip flops and bathing suits and to have their bags packed by yesterday… I am so tempted to say he can pick up the bags on the 18th like planned. I won’t do that.

How should one handle this situation? I am trying to create better feeling thoughts about the fact that he is taking my children away from me for 5.5 weeks with no permission. I think it is technically illegal but if I go after him then it will create more drama for the kids but I feel like I need to stand up for myself… although I have listened to you talk about that. I said “no” to him taking them on the 11th but he went behind my back and did it anyway and now says the tickets are non refundable…. what would you do???? Thank you!!