I am going to tell you how to take care of you during the holidays! Why? Because, I am nothing if not predictable.

Every year, as the holiday season’s busy schedule fires up, I resort to the same tactic for finding more time to get it all done. I let go of everything that sustains me and go all in for meeting other people’s needs, wishes, wants.

And because that is something we all probably saw our abuelitas and mamacitas do day in and day out, I am likely not alone. I am thinking that there is a more than fair chance that as you read this you are nodding in recognition.

I resort to this unhealthy behavior of putting my needs and health last even though there is at least one vital self-care lesson I have every year, even though I know that I am so much better, have so much more to offer when I have offered myself care as a regular part of my life. I abandon my health and happiness (by stopping my workouts to make time for grading papers or not giving myself some much needed quiet time for processing or creating because I don’t want my son to have to be with a sitter for an hour) so that I can trade for the false-promise that by doing that I will make everyone else happy. And, yet, here’s the thing. Making myself less happy and less healthy has never made anyone else more happy or healthy.

The importance of self-care is a lesson that I keep learning and keep teaching. Have you ever heard that adage you teach what you need to learn? In this case, I absolutely teach what I need to learn. And this holiday season, I’ve decided to really make a case for care because come December 31st, I really want to be able to know, to feel in my soul, that I savored every moment of the month’s festivities with my family. I want to have really been present for the tree cutting, the house decorating, the parade watching, the cookie making, the light admiring, the festival attending, the carol singing, the book reading, the gift buying, the service attending, the gift opening, and everything else that comes with the season. And if there is anything that I know about myself it is that I am most able to be present for others when I have been present for myself.

And so that’s why for the month of December, I am celebrating not just Christmas or the anniversary of my son’s adoption or my niece’s arrival. I am also celebrating what I call Claim Your Care month and I want you to celebrate with me.

What, exactly, is Claim Your Care month? Though you won’t find it on any national calendar, it is still important. What I am asking you- and me- to do every day for the rest of the month is one kind, caring thing for ourselves daily. In the midst of finding the perfect gift for your sister-in-law or making the preschool party cupcakes, also make room each day for you, Maybe you walk for an hour, drink tea in the stillness of morning while reading a good book, get a pedicure, take a long bath. Self-care looks different but is vital to each one of us.

Every single day this month, start your day with an intention for self-care. Know the answer to the question, “how will I care for myself today?” and keep that commitment just as you would keep a commitment to your child, partner, parent, work. And at the end of each day, to build your awareness about how much this care matters, take a moment to reflect on what that self-care added to your life. Did it bring you a sense of calm or wellbeing? Did it give you time to reflect on something or solve a problem that has been rattling around in your mind? Did it give you much needed perspective or refuel your well? Self-care pays countless dividends but because we so often don’t allow it for ourselves, we haven’t made those observations.

And go a step further in Claiming Your Care. Share your plans here for claiming your care each day, what you did for yourself, and what you learned so that others can be inspired by your Claim Your Care movement.

Because I relearn the importance of this lesson every year, it is never lost on me that it is never too late to claim ourselves. This December, let’s each develop the radical conviction that we should be cared for, first and foremost, by ourselves.